Experts find idea of herd immunity risky: Fawad

Updated May 19 2020

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Says Covid-19 pressure likely to be felt the most by middle of June. — APP/File
Says Covid-19 pressure likely to be felt the most by middle of June. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: A committee of experts in the ministry of science and technology on Monday cautioned that relaxing lockdown without precautions could have dire consequences.

In a tweet, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry conveyed the concerns of the committee, which said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s policy of smart lockdown was the solution to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Coronavirus is not ordinary flu,” the minister said.

Mr Chaudhry texted that the committee of experts in his ministry met and gave its opinion on three major aspects. According to him, the experts were of the opinion that the idea of herd immunity could prove risky and dangerous. He said they believed such an approach should be discouraged.

Disclosing the opinion of the committee, the minister warned that the pressure of the coronavirus was expected to be felt the most by the middle of June.

Says Covid-19 pressure likely to be felt the most by middle of June

The views of the committee of experts came soon after Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed on Monday issued directives to the relevant authorities for allowing the reopening of shopping malls across the country. The Supreme Court questioned the logic behind keeping malls closed. Among the many stores that were closed until Monday including barber shops opened as soon as the news of the court orders hit TV screens.

Rizwan Ali, a men’s salon owner in Sector I-8 Markaz, claimed to have opened his shop after two months.

Last week, the minister for science and technology decided not to attend the National Assembly session after several members and staff tested positive for coronavirus. “From the first day, I have been saying that the session should be on video link. Why put the country’s political leadership in unnecessary danger,” he said in a tweet.

Despite a request from the deputy speaker of the National Assembly to visit parliament a few days ago, the minister decided to postpone his visit, as at least three parliamentary reporters and two senators tested positive for Covid-19. “It is now certain that coronavirus is attached to the Parliament building, so I am postponing the intention. A session will be called where you can talk comfortably,” he said in his message.

About the export of disinfectants and sanitizers, the minister described the decision of the cabinet as truly remarkable to allow the export of the items which comply with the World Health Organization (WHO) standards and are far better than available stocks anywhere. He said: “I hope Pakistan will become a major exporter of medical merchandise and materials.”

Mr Chaudhry also announced launching a joint study of Pakistan Science Foundation and the HEC to ascertain how coronavirus can affect the industries, which of them may collapse, and which new industries are likely to emerge. The HEC is expected to issue guidelines to universities to reset their degree plans according to future industry needs.

Meanwhile, the countrywide number of coronavirus cases increased to 43,158, while so far the pandemic has claimed 923 lives.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2020