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Declining COVID19 Reproduction Rate in Pakistan Now Among the World's Lowest

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London's Imperial College estimates that COVID19 pandemic in Pakistan is "on course to fade out", a testimony to Prime Minister Imran Khan's government's effective handling of the the ongoing global health crisis.  At just 0.74, the effective coronavirus reproduction rate (Rt) in Pakistan is among the lowest in the world. An Rt of less than 1 indicates each infected person is infecting fewer than one person.  Only Italy (0.63), Netherlands (0.62), Canada (0.50) and Spain (0.02) have lower reproduction rates than Pakistan's. However, this is no time to relax. Pakistanis need to continue to take all precautions, including wearing face masks, to ensure that COVID19 fades out in the country.


Pakistan's coronavirus transmission rate is lowest in its region. Neighboring India's Rt is 1.14, Iran's 1.12, Bangladesh 0.96 and Afghanistan's 0.93 are all significantly higher than Pakistan's 0.74.


The latest numbers vindicate Pakistan government's …

Pakistan Pharma Among World's Top 3 Fastest Growing

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Pakistan pharmaceutical industry and market are among the world's top 3 fastest growing, according to IQVIA health market research firm based in the United States. Pakistan’s domestic pharmaceutical firms sales have grown 13.1% compounded annually in the last 4 years, outperforming multinational companies (MNCs), which saw global growth of 9.34% CAGR. Pakistan's pharma sector is growing faster than in other emerging markets like Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Russia and Vietnam.

Emerging faster than the MNCs, the quarterly revenues of the local Pakistani pharmaceutical companies surged to Rs. 320 billion in the quarter ending March 31, 2020, compared with Rs. 195.75 billion as of March 31, 2016. Similarly, MNCs increased their quarterly sales in Pakistan to Rs. 143.2 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2020, up from Rs. 100.2 billion in Q12016, according to Pakistani media reports. Pakistan exported $217.04 million worth of pharma products during 2019, according to the Unit…

Pakistani-American Actor Kumail Nanjiani to Star in Marvel's New Movie

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Karachi-born Pakistani-American actor Kumail Nanjiani plays Kingo,  one of the title characters in "The Eternals", Marvel's new movie scheduled for release in 2021. Kingo is a 16th century Japanese master swordsman and a film star and producer. The Eternals are a race of immortal superheroes. The movie also stars Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Richard Madden, and Kit Harington.


Nanjiani is a comedian. Prior to The Eternals, Nanjiani has not played any muscular hero roles. He had to train for a year to get in shape for this role. Posting a photo showing his killer abs on Instagram, Nanjiani said: "I found out a year ago I was going to be in Marvel's Eternals and decided I wanted to transform how I looked. I would not have been able to do this if I didn't have a full year with the best trainers and nutritionists paid for by the biggest studio in the world".

One of constant themes of his media coverage the fact that he is among the few men of color in the mo…

Are American and Pakistani Responses to COVID19 Pandemic Flawed?

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Did the pandemic surveillance system fail in early detection of the Coronavirus in US and Pakistan? What are the problems in this system? What needs to be done to correct the problems?


How are Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan and President Donald Trump of the United States handling the COVID19 pandemic? Are both their responses fundamentally flawed? Are absolute total lockdowns as recommended by the World Health Organization necessary in Pakistan? Can Pakistan handle the economic and human consequences of extended total lockdown?


Weekly COVID19 deaths in Pakistan have declined to 577 this week from 869 last week. To put it perspective, about 4,000 Pakistanis died everyday from various causes before the current pandemic.

The number of people testing positive in Pakistan has declined to 1 in 6.36 (15.7%) from the peak of 1 in 4.47 (22.3%) on June 4, 2020.

What does the coronavirus data show in terms of coronavirus cases and fatality rates in the US and Pakistan? Is the positivity r…

Opioid Crisis: Indian-American Pharma CEO Jailed

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Dr. John Nath Kapoor, Indian-American CEO of Insys Therapeutics, has been found guilty of conspiring to recklessly and illegally boost profits from the opioid painkiller Subsys, a fentanyl spray designed to be absorbed under the tongue, according to multiple media reports.


In 2018, data showed that opioid overdoses killed an average of 128 Americans everyday.  Last year, nearly 70,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses.  Opioid abuse has become a public health crisis with devastating social, economic and health consequences in vast swathes of America.  In spite of knowing the dangers opioids posed, drug companies like Kapoor's Insys heavily promoted such drugs by paying physicians to overprescribe, resulting in enormous company profits.

Kapoor has received five and a half years jail sentence.  CBS has reported that others working for him have been sentenced to serve from 12 to 33 months, in part because of the testimony of the government's star witness: Alec Burlakoff, the sen…

Impact of COVID19 Pandemic; Biden vs Trump; Modi's Blunders

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What is the global impact of COVID19 pandemic? How has it affected the United States? How is Prime Minister Imran Khan handling the coronavirus crisis in Pakistan? Are complete lockdowns absolutely necessary to contain the spread of coronavirus?


Has President Trump's handling of the COVID pandemic and its devastating economic impact hurt his re-election chances?  Who is better for Pakistan? Biden or Trump? Was President Obama's hostility toward Pakistan shared by Joe Biden who served as his vice president from 2009 to 2017? Why did Biden say "Pakistan is 50 times more important to US than Afghanistan"?

Have Prime Minister Modi's policies backfired? Why has Modi not succeeded in isolating Pakistan? Why do almost all of India's neighbors from China to Nepal to Pakistan have problems with India? Why is Modi under India so isolated? Why has President Trump not strongly backed India in Ladakh?

Despardes with Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam…

Can India Afford Economic Boycott of China After Ladakh?

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Indian consumers are hooked to a whole range of Chinese products. India's industry sources critical components from China. Indian startups rely on Chinese venture capital. Can Indians really afford to boycott China without seriously hurting themselves after the killing of Indian soldiers by the Chinese Army in Ladakh?  Let's look at the data.



Volume of China-India Trade:

India accounts for $70 billion of China's export,  less than 3% of the country's $2.5 trillion in exports. Chinese products make up about 18% of India's total imports.

India imports almost seven times more from China than it exports to it, according Indian media reports. India runs huge trade deficit with China – its largest with any country. In 2018-19, India’s exports to China were mere $16.7 billion, while imports were $70.3 billion, leaving a trade deficit of $53.6 billion.

Indian Industries Dependence on China:

Indian industry depends on China for a range of raw materials. About a fifth of  comp…

Indian-American COVID19 Researchers Face Fraud Charges Over HydroxyChloroquine (HCQ) Study

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Top two international medical journals, New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and The Lancet, were recently forced to retract two papers on COVID-19 due to obvious fraud committed by the coauthor Sapan Desai, Chicago-based Indian-American surgeon and businessman, whose analytics company Surgisphere claimed to have stored clinical data from thousands of patients of hundreds of hospitals as part of HydroxyChloroquine (HCQ) study. Dr. Amit Patel and Dr. Madeep Mehra, both of whom are American-Indians, claimed to be the lead authors of the papers published in The Lancet and NEJM. The drug was promoted by US President Trump as a way to treat COVID patients. The study claimed to have looked at data from 671 hospitals across six continents related to 96,000 patients. The authors claimed that 81,000 hospitalized patients were not given HCQ but 15,000 were given HCQ which has been widely used to treat malaria patients.

It all turned out to be fake. But it forced World Health Organization (WHO…

Racism in America; Coronavirus in Pakistan; China in Ladakh

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Is the killing of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis Police Officer symptomatic of a deeper problem in American society? Is the Trump phenomenon the result of ingrained racism in America? Is racism rooted in America's original sin of slavery?  Is it time to openly acknowledge and address it? Is it time for greater social change beyond the emancipation proclamation of 1860s and the civil rights legislation of 1960s? Is wide participation of white American protesters in recent marches a clear call for action by top leadership in the White House and the US Congress?


What is the status and the trajectory of coronavirus pandemic in Pakistan? How widespread are the infections? What does COVID19 and antibodies testing tell us? Is easing of lockdown justified? How long a lockdown can Pakistan's poor afford? What is the alternative? Can mandatory face mask slow down the spread? Is there a right balance between lives and livelihoods?

Why is India so isolated? Have Modi's actions co…

About 5% of Confirmed COVID19 Cases Currently Hospitalized in Pakistan

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Pakistan has so far had just over 100,000 confirmed cases of COVID19. About 5,000 are currently in hospitals, including 1,000 in critical condition and 278 on ventilators, according to the World Heath Organization representative in Pakistan. Over 32,000 have recovered and 2,000 have died. Data from multiple countries shows that only a few of those who go on the ventilators survive. It takes highly skilled pulmonologists to insert the ventilator, a skill that is not widely available. Meanwhile, antibodies testing in Karachi indicates millions in Pakistan may have already been infected with COVID19 without any symptoms or sickness. More testing is uncovering more of those already infected but only have mild symptoms and unlikely to get sick or die.

Hospitalizations in Pakistan:

About 5,000 Pakistanis are currently in hospitals, including 1,000 in critical condition and 278 on ventilators, according to World Heath Organization representative in Pakistan. Over 32,000 have recovered and 2,0…

Antibodies Testing in Karachi Reveals COVID19 Exposure Runs in Double Digits

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Antibodies testing of 7,000 adults in Karachi reveals that as many as 15% of them have already been exposed to COVID19 without experiencing symptoms, according to a study by Dr. Wajiha Javed, an epidemiologist and head of public health and research at Getz Pharma in Pakistan. This data raises the possibility that millions of Pakistanis may have already been exposed to coronavirus. It takes at least 40% of the population to be exposed to build herd immunity. This may be the only way to normalcy unless there is a vaccine available sooner.

Human Immune Response:

Human body naturally produces antibodies to fight viruses of various kinds, including the coronavirus. Presence of antibodies in a person confirms that he or she has been exposed to a virus regardless of symptoms. Serology tests can detect body's immune response to even a low-level viral load. Such an immune response also occurs to a vaccine which does not make you sick but helps build immunity. More low level exposure to viru…

Are Lockdowns Absolutely Necessary to Contain the Coronavirus Pandemic?

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Many countries have imposed strict lockdowns to control the spread of coronavirus.  Marko Kolanovic of JP Morgan claims that numbers had declined because the virus "likely has its own dynamics" that are "unrelated to and often inconsistent lockdown measures".  He cites as evidence a number of places whose infection rates, or "R" values, have continued to fall despite restrictions being lifted.



Are these absolutely necessary? What are its costs and benefits in terms of lives and livelihoods, particularly in developing countries like Pakistan with young populations?  Over 40% of all coronavirus deaths in Europe and America have occurred among the elderly living in nursing homes. Pakistanis age 60+ account for 19% of cases but 58% of deaths. Like US and Europe, older people are much more likely to die from coronavirus in Pakistan.  But average life expectancy in Pakistan is just 67 years and the median age in the country is only 22 years. The explanations of…

Yom-e-Takbeer: US Efforts to Stop Pakistan Nuclear Tests in May, 1998

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"Believe me when I tell you that my heart is with you. I appreciate and would even privately agree with what you're advising us to do (abandon nuclear tests)", said Pakistan's Ex Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott on May 16, 1998
The order to conduct Pakistan's nuclear tests came from Mr. Nawaz Sharif who was Pakistan's prime minister in 1998. It came on May 28, just over two weeks after India's nuclear tests conducted May 11 to May 13, 1998. Pakistan went ahead with the tests in spite of the US pressure to abstain from testing.  US President Bill Clinton called Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif immediately after the Indian tests to urge restraint.  It was followed up by Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott's visit to Islamabad on May 16, 1998.

In his 2010 book titled "Engaging India: Diplomacy, Democracy, and the Bomb", Secretary Talbott has described US diplomatic efforts to dissuade Pakistan in the t…