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Third wave steadily declining, says Dr Faisal

Islamabad : The third wave of COVID-19 has steadily declined. As many as 47,000 to 55,000 tests per day were performed this week, with the national positivity ratio falling steadily to an average of less than 4%. However, as expected, the third wave in Sindh began a bit later than the rest of the federating units, with the positivity ratio in the province still fluctuating between 6-7%.

The PM’s Special Assistant on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan shared the above data while presenting latest updates on disease spread, vaccination, and circulation of fake news in a video statement here on Saturday. He attributed the decline in the third wave of COVID-19 to the government’s lockdown policy, enforcement of SOPs, and greater vaccine uptake and administration.

Thanking all citizens for their cooperation, the SAPM warned that the “fight against COVID is not over yet.” He said, compliance of SOPs is regularly being monitored across all sectors in every federating unit, and the NCOC has already alerted all industries that compliance is not up to the mark. “The national compliance of SOPs across all provinces and sectors stands at 46%. A sector-wise breakdown portrays hospitals as showing 70% compliance, followed by airports/bus stands/railway Stations (50%), public places (42%), mosques/ imambargahs (41%), transport sector (40%), businesses (40.28%) and industry (38%).

With reference to vaccine procurement, Dr. Faisal said, 100,000 doses of Pfizer—an American COVID-19 vaccine brand approved for use by the World Health Organisation—arrived via COVAX last week. The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has granted emergency use approval to Pfizer. The NCOC has decided that for now, in view of the small number of doses, the Pfizer vaccine will be administered to those traveling abroad for Hajj, or for work or education in countries which accept Pfizer only and where it is compulsory for travelers to show a vaccination certificate upon entry.

Additionally, another 1 million Sinopharm doses purchased by the government have also arrived. About 11.8 million vaccine doses have arrived in Pakistan thus far; of these, 76% were purchased by the government. “We also received some great news from abroad,” Dr. Faisal said, referring to the WHO giving the emergency use authorization to Sinovac. “Pakistan has been administering Sinovac since May 9 with full faith in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. WHO’s approval only confirms our evaluation and will encourage more countries to approve the vaccine,” he stated.

“As of now, we have not vaccinated enough people for us to rely solely on vaccination to slow down the spread of the disease. Compliance with SOPs continues to be crucial to mitigate the spread of the virus across all regions,” Dr. Faisal pointed out.

Presenting an update on vaccine administration as of June 4, Dr. Faisal said, 2.2 million people have been fully vaccinated while 3.7 million have received at least one dose. In total, 8 million doses have been administered, making Pakistan one of the world’s top 30 countries in terms of doses administered. “We have administered more vaccine doses than 165 countries; these include Australia, Switzerland, Portugal and Belgium,” he said. The vaccination drive is continuing in full swing, with 300,000-400,000 doses being administered per day.

Referring to eligibility, Dr. Faisal recollected that walk-in vaccination for people aged 30 plus was opened on May 29. All people falling in the said age bracket can send their CNIC to 1166 to register, visit any vaccination centre, and get vaccinated. The list of centers is available at ncoc.gov.pk. Similarly, registration for people aged 18 years and above was opened on May 27, with scheduled vaccine administration having begun on June 3. Walk-in vaccination had also been opened nationwide for all teachers and school staff above 18 on May 29. “Teachers of any age group can visit any vaccination center with their employment letter, and get vaccinated,” he said.

Referring to fake news and misinformation being maliciously spread about various aspects of Covid-19, Dr. Faisal said, “We are closely monitoring the conversation about COVID. He dismissed as “absolutely false,” the news about Nobel Prize winner Luc Montagnier’s claims about COVID vaccines. “There is no evidence that he said this, and the claim has been discredited by multiple fact-checking organizations. All WHO approved vaccines went through rigorous trial and testing phases before being administered to the general public to minimize health risks. There is no published scientific research that suggests that people will die within 2 years of receiving the vaccine,” he clarified.

About the viral video showing a bulb lighting up upon making contact with a vaccinated person’s arm, Dr. Faisal said, “Vaccinated arms do not generate electricity and cannot light a bulb. There is no scientific evidence suggesting this happens, and millions of other people that were inoculated have not experienced any such side-effect. Several fact checking platforms produced videos in response, debunking this claim,” he concluded.

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