Pakistan News

China will supply a coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by a unit of the China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) to Pakistan as part of a trial agreement, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

State-owned Sinopharm is set to work with the University of Karachi on vaccine trials, according to the WSJ report, which said Pakistan will receive enough doses early in distribution to vaccinate about one-fifth of its population.

The initial doses will be used to vaccinate the most vulnerable among the Pakistani population including the elderly, healthcare workers and people with medical conditions associated with serious cases of Covid-19, the report added.

 

Earlier in April, Sinopharm had invited the National Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad, to collaborate in conducting clinical trials of its inactivated vaccine for Covid-19 in Pakistan.

In a letter sent to NIH Executive Director Maj Gen Dr Aamer Ikram, the general manager of China Sinopharm International Corp., Li Can, had expressed the hope that "a successful clinical trial in Pakistan will make it one of [the] first few countries for the launch of a Covid-19 vaccine".

Dr Ikram had then told Dawn.com that although clearances were needed for the purpose, the collaboration could be "a great thing for Pakistan".

Meanwhile, researchers have said that Sinopharm's coronavirus vaccine candidate appeared to be safe and triggered antibody-based immune responses in early and mid-stage trials.

The candidate has already moved into a late-stage trial, one of a handful of candidates being tested on several thousand people to see if they are effective enough to win regulatory approval.

Sinopharm is testing the potential vaccine in the United Arab Emirates in a Phase 3 trial expected to recruit 15,000 people, as China has too few new cases to be a useful trial site.

The shot did not cause any serious side effects, according to a paper published on Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by scientists who are part of Sinopharm and other China-based disease control authorities and research institutes.

The results were based on data from 320 healthy adults in Phase 1 and 2 trials.

The candidate triggered robust antibody responses in inoculated people, but it remained unknown if that was sufficient to prevent Covid-19 infection, researchers developing the vaccine said in the paper.

Sinopharm's chairman told state media last month that a potential vaccine could be ready by the end of this year with Phase 3 testing expected to be completed in about three months.

The novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 750,000 people globally, has prompted a race to develop a vaccine. More than 150 candidate vaccines are being developed and tested around the world.

Russia became the first country to grant regulatory approval to a vaccine after less than two months of human testing, and a shot developed by Chinese firm CanSino Bilogics has been cleared for use in the military.

China is leading the development of at least eight vaccine candidates in different stages of clinical trials.

منشیات کے خلاف چلائی جانے والی مہم میں ہر وقت ڈر اور خوف موجود رہتا ہے دوسری طرف قانون نافذ کرنے والے اداروں کے اہلکار اپنے ادارے کا سہارا لیتے ہیں جبکہ ہمارے جیسے لوگ جو منشیات کے خلاف مہم ، مختلف پروگراموں کی منصوبہ بندی، حکومتی اداروں کے ساتھ منشیا ت کے خلاف کام کرنے کا جذبہ لیکن ہمارے مسائل کی طرف کبھی نہیں سوچا جاتا۔

سال ہا سال سے میں نے زندگی کا بڑا حصہ دوسروں کی زندگی بچانے،

منشیات کے خلاف مہم چلانے،

حکومتی اداروں کےساتھ منشیات کے خلاف ہر ممکنہ مدد کرنے،

شیشہ کیفوں اور آکسیجن شاٹ کے استعمال کو بند کروانے،

ہائی کورٹ اور سپریم کورٹ میں مختلف کیسوں میں منشیات جیسے مسائل پر پارٹی بن کر حصہ لینا،

تعلیمی اداروں میں تین سطحوں پر منشیات کے خلاف اساتذہ اور طلبہ کو متحرک کرنا،

تعلیمی اداروں میں منشیات کے خلاف فوکل پرسنزز کی تعنیاتی،

فوکل پرسنزز اساتذہ کی بین الاقوامی سٹینڈرز کے مطابق تربیتی پروگراموں کا انعقاد،

والدین کے لئےنشہ کے خلاف پیرنٹنگ سکلز پر تربیتی پروگرواں کا انقعاد،

حکومتی اداروں کے مختلف شعبہ جات کو نشہ کے خلاف متحرک کرنا اور مل کر بھرپور کام کیا_

پرنٹ اور الیکڑک میڈیا کے تعاون کا ہر ممکنہ شکریہ جس کی جتنی بھی تعریف کی جاْئے کم ہے جہنوں نے میری ہزاروں خبریں اور سینکڑوں انٹرویو نشر کیے جو میرے لئے کسی اعزاز سے کم نیہں ہے ...

سڑکوں باغوں اور پارکوں میں پڑے اور گھروں سے بھاگئے منشیات کے عادی افراد کی ہر ممکنہ مدد خوراک اور پانی کا انتظام کے ساتھ ساتھ ان کِی آواز کو حکومتی اداروں تک پہنچایا۔

اپںے لئے تو سب سوچتے اور کرتے ہیں مگر خدمت اور دوسروں کی مدد خصوصا منشیات کے عادی افراد کے مسائل کو سمجنھا سب سے اہم مسلئہ ہے۔

آپکی مدد اور مذید رہنمائی میرے کام کو آگے بڑھانے میں دوسروں کی مدد کا ذریعہ ثابت ہو گا۔ ہمیشہ سیکھنے کے عمل کو جاری رہنا چاہئے۔

سید ذوالفقار حسین
کنسلٹنٹ انسداد منشیات مہم
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Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday dismissed a story published in an Australian news outlet on a Wuhan lab conducting alleged covert operations in Pakistan, calling it "politically motivated and fake".

"It is composed of distortion of facts and fabrications that quote anonymous sources," said a statement issued by the ministry, through the office of the Foreign Office spokesperson.

The Klaxon report, quoting unnamed "intelligence experts", claims China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology has "set up operations in Pakistan as part of a broader offensive against India and Western rivals".

"The secret facility is allegedly making anthrax-like pathogens which could be used in biological warfare," the report published on July 23 alleges.

"There is nothing secret about the Bio-Safety Level-3 (BSL-3) Laboratory of Pakistan referred to in the report," said the statement by Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued today. "Pakistan has been sharing information about the facility with the States Parties to the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention (BTWC) in its submission of Confidence Building Measures.

"The facility is meant for diagnostic and protective system improvement by Research and Development (R&D) on emerging health threats, surveillance and disease outbreak investigation.

"Pakistan strictly abides by its BTWC obligations and has been one of the most vocal supporters for a strong verification mechanism to ensure full compliance by the States Parties to the Convention."

"The attempt to cast aspersions about the facility is particularly absurd against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has highlighted the need for better preparedness in the areas of disease surveillance and control and international collaborations in that regard, consistent with Article X of BTWC," added the statement.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology came under scrutiny in April with the US probing whether the virus actually originated in the virology institute — located in China’s coronavirus epicentre — with a high-security biosafety laboratory.

Chinese scientists have said the virus likely jumped from an animal to humans in a market that sold wildlife. But the existence of the facility has fuelled conspiracy theories that the germ spread from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, specifically its P4 laboratory which is equipped to handle dangerous viruses.

The director of the laboratory, Yuan Zhiming, had said that “there’s no way this virus came from us”. None of his staff had been infected, he told the English-language state broadcaster CGTN, adding the “whole institute is carrying out research in different areas related to the coronavirus”.

LAHORE: Police personnel on Wednesday seal an area from where several Covid-19 cases have been reported.—White Star

 

ISLAMABAD: The enforcement of smart lockdown has begun to bear fruit as it was revealed on Wednesday that the number of coronavirus cases reduced by 90 per cent in an area of the federal capital which was sealed on March 13.

“Around 100 cases were being reported daily from Sector G-9, but after enforcement of smart lockdown the number of cases has reduced to 8-9 per day. It is nothing but benefit of the lockdown as the movement of people has been minimised,” Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqat told the media.

He said no one was being allowed to unnecessarily go inside or outside the area under lockdown and even movement was being discouraged to reduce the chances of human to human transmission of the deadly virus.

Meanwhile, 5,785 new cases of Covid-19 and 133 deaths were reported across the country over the past 24 hours, taking the national tally of cases to 157,738 and casualties to 3,033.

5,785 Covid-19 cases, 133 deaths reported in 24 hours; certain parts of Karachi to go under lockdown today

Pakistan Medical Association secretary general Dr Qaiser Sajjad, while talking to Dawn, insisted that recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) should be implemented to minimise the spread of Covid-18.

It is worth mentioning that the WHO has suggested intermittent lockdown [15 days off and 15 days on] to stop the transmission of the virus.

Dr Sajjad said that at least the whole cities should be locked to contain the transmission of the viral disease, otherwise the country night never be able to get rid of it. “Virus cannot be eradicated by enforcement of lockdowns in some areas of the cities as people will find ways to cross the areas and reach the places of work and may violate restrictions for other reasons. If the whole city is locked, people will have no reason to move out of the area under lockdown,” he explained.

He said that some countries like New Zealand had got rid of the virus by imposing lockdown and Pakistan should also focus on it.

“Moreover, heavy fines should be imposed on violators as majority of people either don’t wear masks or they just hang them in the neck or keep them on the chin. Rulers should hold meeting with a one-point agenda — controlling the disease. There should be uniformity in policies of the federal and provincial governments and stance of opposition parties should also be the same,” he suggested.

Dr Sajjad said it was unfortunate that the brand names of medicines were being used in the media as a treatment of the disease due to which these had disappeared from the market. “Even government personalities are using the brand names of medicines, which is condemnable. I suggest that generic name (formula name) should be used to avoid shortage of medicines. Unfortunately, people have started storing the medicines, oxygen cylinders, etc, at their houses unnecessarily due to which disserving patients don’t get the medicines,” he added.

According to a statement issued by the National Command and Operation Centre, more than 9,827 violations of health guidelines/instructions were observed across the country during the last 24 hours due to which over 963 markets/shops and 18 industries were sealed and 1,186 vehicles impounded, besides imposition of fines.

Under the tracing, testing and quarantine (TTQ) strategy, 904 lockdowns were imposed in Punjab, 26 in Sindh, 572 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 29 in Azad Kashmir, 10 in Islamabad and five in Gilgit-Baltistan.

WHO welcomes UK study

The WHO has welcomed the initial clinical trial results from the United Kingdom, which show dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, can be lifesaving for patients who are critically ill with Covid-19. For patients on ventilators, the treatment redu­ces mortality by about one-third, and for patients requiring only oxygen, mortality was cut by about one-fifth, according to the preliminary findings shared with the WHO.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2020

Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and incumbent Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Monday, joining a growing list of politicians who have contracted the disease.

Earlier today, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb confirmed Khaqan had been diagnosed with the virus, adding that he had quarantined himself at home.

Shehbaz Sharif extended well wishes for Abbasi's health, saying that the PML-N's vice president was a "valuable asset of the party". Sharif also expressed concern over the growing number of coronavirus cases in the country.

Later in the day, a statement issued by the Railways ministry confirmed that Rashid had also been infected, adding that the minister was not experiencing any symptoms. The statement said Rashid had gone into self-isolation at home for two weeks, as per recommendations by doctors.

 

Later, the minister took to Twitter to say he had tested positive for the virus. He maintained that he was not showing any symptoms and was "fine".

President Arif Alvi, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani called the minister to inquire after his health.

Meanwhile, PML-N leaders Aurangzeb and Tariq Fazal Chaudhry also got tested after Abbasi was diagnosed with the virus, as they had been in contact with the former prime minister.

Chaudhry later announced on Twitter that he had also tested positive for Covid-19.

 

Abbasi had been out and about last week — he went to the Lahore High Court to attend PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif's bail hearing and also held a press conference alongside other party leaders including Aurangzeb and Ahsan Iqbal.

Multiple politicians, including members of the ruling PTI, have been diagnosed with the virus in Pakistan as the government insists on easing lockdown against doctors' advice. More than 103,000 people have tested positive across the country since the first case emerged on Feb 26.

Read more: Pakistan among pioneers of 'smart lockdown' approach, says PM Imran

Prominent political leaders who have contracted the virus so far include National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and PPP leader Saeed Ghani, all of whom have recovered.

Last week, MQM-P leader Faisal Sabzwari was diagnosed with the virus, along with his parents, wife and daughter. Before that another federal minister, Shehryar Afridi, had also tested positive and gone into isolation.

Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal MPA Abdul Rasheed and Senator Mirza Mohammad Afridi are also among politicians who have tested positive.

Former Balochistan governor Syed Fazal Agha, PTI Punjab MPA Shaheen Raza, Sindh Minister for Human Settlement Ghulam Murtaza Baloch, MNA Munir Khan Orakzai and PTI's Mian Jamshedud Din Kakakhel are among politicians who passed away after contracting the virus.

Pakistan Army on Friday shot down an Indian spying quadcopter in Khanjar sector along the Line of Control (LoC), according to the military’s media affairs wing. — Photo courtesy ISPR

Pakistan Army on Friday shot down an Indian spying quadcopter in Khanjar sector along the Line of Control (LoC), according to the military’s media affairs wing.

"The quadcopter had intruded 500 meters on Pakistan’s side of the LoC," said Major General Babar Iftikhar, director general of the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), in a tweet, adding that this was the 8th Indian quadcopter to be shot down by Pakistan Army's troops this year.

 

Last Friday, ISPR said an Indian reconnaissance drone was shot down after it intruded into Azad Kashmir from across LoC.

Officials believe the Indian Army is deliberately escalating tensions at the LoC by sending spy drones and by resorting to unprovoked shelling. This constitutes a breach of the Nov 2003 ceasefire agreement.

Maj Gen Iftikhar on Wednesday had warned that any military adventurism by India will be met with "uncontrollable and unintended consequences", cautioning the neighbouring nation to "not play with fire".

"Many times, their [India's] quadcopters have intruded on our side [of the LoC] and in the past we have downed some of them, and it has been covered in the media."

"Being a military spokesperson, let me say this: Indian aggression aimed towards Pakistan will be responded [to] with full might, there should be no doubt about this. We are ready, we will respond — and we will respond with full might."

Khudian police have arrested a member of the Punjab Highway Patrol (PHP) police, who allegedly sexually harassed and later on Sunday shot dead an 18-year-old boy for allegedly refusing to have a relationship with him in Punjab's Kasur district, officials said on Tuesday.

The victim, who was shot dead near main Khudian bazaar in the limits of Khudian police station, is the son of a local prayer leader, on whose complaint a First Information Report (FIR) of the incident was registered.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar took notice of the incident and sought a report from the provincial police chief as outrage over the killing grew louder on social media. The chief minister, while condoling with the bereaved family, assured them of justice, according to reports.

The deceased was a Hafiz-e-Quran and a member of the Jamiat Ahle Hadith. The suspect, 30, is an official of the patrolling police who was posted at Noorpur police post at Deepalpur Road.

Both the victim and the suspect were stated to be fast friends and they reportedly had relations in the past, Station House Officer Mohammad Ashraf told Dawn.

The deceased's father stated in the complaint that the suspect stopped his son at the corner of an alley while the latter was walking to a mosque for Fajr prayers on Eid day. The suspect threatened the teenager with his gun and warned that he would kill him if he (the deceased) did not agree to have sexual relations with him, the FIR said.

After the victim turned down the suspect's overture, the police official allegedly opened fire on him, resulting in an injury, according to the FIR, a copy of which is available with Dawn.

The complainant, who was nearby, said he and some other people tried to catch the suspect but he fled the scene while brandishing his weapon.

The injured victim was rushed to the Kasur District Headquarters Hospital where doctors referred him to Lahore General Hospital in critical condition. He later succumbed to his injuries at the Lahore hospital.

Police arrested the suspect soon after the incident and started an investigation into the case from various angles.

Police officials said investigators will also look beyond the details in the FIR to dispense justice and claimed that the incident had nothing to do with any sect or religious element.

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