With the percentage of positive Covid-19 infections crossing two per cent for the first time in six weeks, Pakistan seems hopeful of acquiring a vaccine in the next six months.
An official of the Ministry of National Health Services, requesting not to be quoted, said the University of Health Sciences (UHS) had been collaborating with Oxford University on a vaccine but the UK varsity sold the patent as well as the research to an India-based company.
“India, on the other hand, announced a policy under which it will produce a vaccine for its one billion population before selling it to any other country,” the official said, adding that “fortunately we made a wise decision to cooperate with China on a vaccine and allowed phase-III trials in Pakistan.”
He said they were hopeful the vaccine would be available in the next six months, adding that it prepared antibodies against spike proteins.
“At present, 15 vaccines were in phase-III trial globally out of which 11 target the spike protein,” he said.
The official said the vaccine might not be effective for life and an energy booster would be required every year.
Pakistan hopeful of acquiring vaccine in six months
Meanwhile, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, in a tweet on Sunday, said positive cases that had remained below two per cent for the last six weeks had now surpassed it.
“That is why mini smart lockdowns have been enforced in Karachi, Islamabad and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Moreover district administrations have been directed to ensure precautionary measures,” he said, adding that it was impossible to control the virus without the cooperation of people.
Talking to Dawn, Mr Umar said nationwide maximum positivity rate at the peak of the pandemic was recorded at 23pc while the minimum was 1.7pc.
“Within three weeks, the positivity rate went from 6pc to 23pc, therefore people need to understand that the virus can spread rapidly. We had observed that it was transmitting from restaurants and wedding halls, which was why we decided to revise the guidelines,” he said.
The minister suggested that the opposition use television for its protests rather than public meetings as they could lead to the spread of the virus.
He said in Europe, only 10 people were allowed to sit together which was brought down to six during the peak season.
Talking to Dawn, UHS Vice Chancellor Dr Javed Akram feared a rise in coronavirus cases during winter.
“Communication of all viral diseases increases during winter season. In developing countries, like Pakistan, the situation worsens because people cannot afford heaters and warm clothes. Since many people stay in one room, the chances of the virus spreading increases compared to during summer,” he said.
Dr Akram said it was unfortunate that the nation had relaxed, thinking the virus had been eradicated.
“I suggest people continue wearing masks and using sanitisers,” he said.
Meanwhile, WHO Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean will hold its 67th session virtually.
Health ministers and high-level representatives of 22 countries in the WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean region along with partner organisations and civil society will connect online to discuss health issues during the two-day session starting on Oct 12.
According to a statement, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi will deliver the keynote speech at the inaugural session through video recording.
WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari will also address the opening session.
Covid-19 will figure in the session as well as the challenges to availability of medicines and vaccines during the pandemic after lockdowns disrupted the supply chain, causing a shortage of medical products and increase in prices.
A new regional strategy to improve access to medicines and vaccines has been developed taking into account lessons learnt during the pandemic, which would be discussed during the session.
It seeks to ensure that everyone in the region has access to quality essential medicines and vaccines by 2030 without facing any financial hardship.
Polio eradication will also be prominent on the agenda of the regional committee.
The Eastern Mediterranean is now the only WHO region where the disease remains endemic after it was confirmed in August that wild poliovirus had been eradicated from the African region.
Representatives will discuss a proposal to establish a new subcommittee on polio eradication and outbreaks to galvanise efforts to end the disease.
Human resources and other assets from the regional polio eradication programme had been making a substantial contribution to the response to Covid-19, but the programme suffered setbacks due to a decline in surveillance for poliovirus and a four-month pause in vaccination activities. Attachments are a Reply Reply all Forward