ISLAMABAD: While several countries have controlled casualties despite being severely affected by Covid-19, Pakistan continues to report a large number of casualties because it has vaccinated hardly 25 per cent of its population, according to an expert.
On the other hand, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan seems satisfied with the country’s performance and says that collective response through the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) served the entire country.
According to NCOC data shared on Thursday, 3,012 new cases and 66 deaths were reported in a single day. The number of casualties, since the beginning of Covid-19, surpassed the figure of 27,000. The number of active cases was 76,581, out of which 5,590 patients were admitted to hospitals as of Sept 16.
Dr Javed Akram, a member of the Scientific Task Force on Covid-19, told Dawn that though several countries, including Israel, were struggling against new variants of coronavirus, they had controlled casualties by vaccinating 70 to 80pc of their population.
Low vaccination contributing to casualties, says expert
“On the other hand in Pakistan hardly 25pc population has been fully vaccinated. So the virus is more virulent for us and number of casualties is very high. To me positivity rate is not an accurate index of the crisis as it changes with increase and decrease in the number of tests,” he said.
Dr Akram, who is vice chancellor of the University of Health Sciences, said while new variants were more virulent, people wanted to spend their life according to their will instead of adopting precautions.
“So far around 190 mutations or variations have been observed, but coronavirus will keep on changing as there are 39,000 possible positions of mutation. As the virus has become four to five times stronger, precautionary measures should also be increased by four to five times. People should know that they can be infected by spending only 15 seconds with a Covid-19 patient and if one virus enters lungs, it can multiply to one billion viruses within 22 hours,” he said.
He advised the people to get themselves vaccinated at the earliest to avoid complications.
Dr Sultan, speaking at a seminar on Covid-19, said Pakistan had successfully dealt with the pandemic by adopting a collective and science-based approach.
“We established the NCOC to have collective decisions so the response was coherent and coordinated. We linked laboratories with the government system to gather data on the disease on a daily basis. We arranged ventilators, medicines and oxygenated beds and ensured supply of oxygen as its demand increased by 66pc. We also took non-pharmaceutical interventions and enforced smart and targeted lockdowns. Moreover, cash amount was disbursed through Ehsaas Programme and then vaccination centres were established. Information technology was used due to which today we can say how many doses have been administered to a person,” he said.
Dr Sultan said as an infectious disease specialist, he believed that the approach of national decision-makers was scientifically correct. He urged masses to get themselves vaccinated at the earliest.
Meanwhile, according to the National Disaster Management Authority, three million doses of Sinovac and one million doses of Sinopharm, procured by the NDMA, have reached Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the heads of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, World Health Organisation and World Trade Organisation met the chief executive officers (CEOs) of leading vaccine manufacturing companies to discuss strategies to improve access to vaccines, particularly in low- and lower middle-income countries and in Africa, according to a statement.
The members of the global Task Force on vaccine expressed concern that without urgent steps the world was unlikely to achieve the end-2021 target of vaccinating at least 40pc of the population in all countries — a critical milestone to end the pandemic and for global economic recovery.
The Task Force members noted that despite adequate global vaccine production, the doses were not reaching low- and lower middle-income countries in sufficient amounts, resulting in a crisis of vaccine inequity.
The Task Force members encouraged countries that had contracted high amounts of vaccine doses and vaccine manufacturers to come together in good faith to urgently accelerate Covid-19 vaccine supplies to Covax.
The Task Force members welcomed the willingness of the CEOs to collectively work with them to end vaccine inequity and their readiness to form a technical working group with the Task Force to exchange and coordinate information on vaccine production and deliveries.
The Task Force members stressed that if the 40pc coverage threshold was to be reached in all countries by the end of 2021, governments and vaccine manufacturers should release doses to low- and lower middle-income countries. They take note that countries with high vaccination rates had collectively pre-purchased over two billion doses in excess of what was required to fully vaccinate their populations.
Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2021