CNN's Fareed Zakaria Never Misses Any Opportunity to Disparage Pakistan

Interviewing Bill Gates on global fight against COVID19, CNN GPS host Fareed Zakaria said on Sunday August 9 that Pakistan "has done almost nothing as far as I can tell, you know, infections are not going crazy, death rates are not going crazy, there may be some underreporting". Needless to say, Zakaria's claim is debunked by "Government Response Stringency Index" and Google Mobility Reports which Bill Gates  is clearly aware of.  So he ignored Zakaria's claim and responded as follows:"Pakistan had a pretty bad peak in Karachi but those numbers have come down and now they look like Europe. India is still sadly in growth phase as is South America...in Africa South Africa is top...in the rest of Africa we've been funding a lot of testing because it's a bit opaque..what goes on in the lungs..you are more exposed to indoor and outdoor particulates even at younger ages you can get disease compared to let's say a rich country"

CNN GPS Anchor Fareed Zakaria

Data on Pakistan's Response to COVID19: 

Is Fareed Zakaria right? Has Pakistan really done nothing to fight COVID19 pandemic? Let's answer this question.

The first answer can be found in the video flashes from Pakistan that were playing as Fareed Zakaria was disparaging Pakistan's efforts to control the spread pf coronavirus. The video shows people wearing masks on the streets in Pakistan. It also shows a worker spraying disinfectant. Another scene shows worshippers wearing masks while sitting apart from each other in a mosque. Does Fareed Zakaria think "nothing" of what is visible on the screen in his show? Did he ask his producer what was being transmitted to the audience as he spoke?

COVID19: Government Response Stringency Index. Source: Our World in Data

The second and more data-centric answer can be seen in the "Government Response Stringency Index" that tracks various restrictions imposed by governments to control the spread of coronavirus. The Index tracks restrictions including school closures, workplace closures, and travel bans, scaled from 0 to 100 where 100 is the strictest response. It's based on data from Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker.  The tracker shows that  Pakistan government response was nearly as stringent as India's and more stringent than that of the United Kingdom.

Another indicator of restrictions comes from Google Mobility Index which also confirms dramatic effect of lockdown imposed by federal and provincial governments in Pakistan. It shows that mobility was down as much as 65% during the lockdown when compared with the period just prior to the lockdown.

CNN GPS Screenshot


Health Chief Dr. Zafar Mirza's Interview: 

What has improved the COVID19 situation in Pakistan? Is it just Pakistan's good fortune? Why is it so different from the situation in neighboring India where the infections are rising?  Is it the result of a series of deliberate interventions by Pakistan's government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan? What are the key factors contributing to falling coronavirus transmission rate in the country? Here are some  of Pakistan's Health Chief Dr. Zafar Mirza's answers to these questions that came to light in a recent interview with Pakistani journalist Bilal Lakhani:


1. There were 50 different interventions with 2300 smart lockdowns covering 47 million people based on data driven evidence of disease spread.

2.  Significant change in people's behavior with large percentage wearing masks and taking other precautions to prevent transmission.

3. A fall in positivity from over 22% to below 10%, and excluding Sindh, near 5% for the country.

4. Significant decline in hospitalizations and fewer patients in critical care.

5. The government staying the course while ignoring the mass hysteria for total nationwide lockdown like India's stirred up in the media came mainly from the well-fed rich and the upper middle class. The voices of the ordinary people and daily wage earners were not part of public discourse reported by the media.

Zakaria's Views on Terrorism: 

Fareed Zakaria has often talked of what he labels "Islamic Terrorism", a label that both Presidents Barack Obama and Geoge W. Bush shunned. Both ex presidents rejected associating terrorism with any religion. But not Fareed Zakaria who has essentially toed the Indian line of calling it "Islamic Terrorism" and labeled Pakistan as "epicenter of Islamic Terrorism".

Far from being objective, Zakaria is in fact a cheerleader for India, the country of his birth. In his book "The Post-American World", he describes India as a "powerful package" and claims India has been "peaceful, stable, and prosperous".

Summary:

CNN GPS host Fareed Zakaria has shown yet again that he is incapable of being objective when it comes to discussing anything related to Pakistan. He claims that Pakistan "has done almost nothing" in fighting COVID19 pandemic, a claim that is debunked by "Government Response Stringency Index" and Google Mobility Reports. In fact, the video flashes from Pakistan that were playing as Fareed Zakaria was disparaging Pakistan's efforts to control the spread pf coronavirus show people wearing masks on the streets in Pakistan. They also shows a worker spraying disinfectant. Another scene shows worshippers wearing masks while sitting apart from each other in a mosque.  Fareed Zakaria's bias against Pakistan is ridiculously obvious to any objective observer who has even the slightest knowledge of the country.

Here's a video clip from CNN GPS Show:

https://youtu.be/KpAMVLwBJkM




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

COVID19 in Pakistan: Test Positivity Rate and Deaths Declining

Pakistan's Pharma Industry Among World's Fastest Growing

Is Pakistan's Response to COVID19 Flawed?

Pakistan's Computer Services Exports Jump 26% Amid COVID19 Lockdown

Coronavirus, Lives and Livelihoods in Pakistan

Vast Majority of Pakistanis Support Imran Khan's Handling of Covid19 Crisis

Pakistani-American Woman Featured in Netflix Documentary "Pandemic"

Coronavirus Antibodies Testing in Pakistan

Can Pakistan Effectively Respond to Coronavirus Outbreak? 

How Grim is Pakistan's Social Sector Progress?

Pakistan Fares Marginally Better Than India On Disease Burdens

Trump Picks Muslim-American to Lead Vaccine Effort

Democracy vs Dictatorship in Pakistan

Pakistan Child Health Indicators

Pakistan's Balance of Payments Crisis

Panama Leaks in Pakistan

Conspiracy Theories About Pakistan Elections"

PTI Triumphs Over Corrupt Dynastic Political Parties

Strikingly Similar Narratives of Donald Trump and Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif's Report Card

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

Comments

Umar A. said…
In our masjid community also I find the Indian Muslim to be more Indian than some of my Indian Hindu colleagues. They still argue about the formation of Pakistan and cannot even imagine the blessing of breathing free.
Khudaya aarzoo meri yehi hai
Mera noor e baseerat aam kar de. Iqbal RA
Riaz Haq said…
Umar: "I find the Indian Muslim to be more Indian than some of my Indian Hindu colleagues"

Decades of brainwashing with the anti-Pakistan narrative in Indian classrooms and media has had its intended effect.

Indian Muslims are fully immersed in it.

During my visits to India, I have frequently heard phrases like "Pakistani aatankwad" from the lips of my relatives there.
Riaz Haq said…
India's invisible catastrophe: fears over spread of #COVIDー19 into poor rural areas with over 600 million #Indians could be overwhelmed by an invisible catastrophe, where many will die without testing or treatment. #Modi #BJP #India https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/aug/17/indias-invisible-catastrophe-fears-over-spread-of-covid-19-into-poor-rural-areas?CMP=share_btn_tw&page=with:img-2#img-2

Some 600 million Indians live in in rural areas, and fears are rising that they could be overwhelmed by an invisible catastrophe, where many will die without testing or treatment. Data from the National Family Health Survey-4 showed that only about 25% of rural Indians have access to public outpatient (OPD) healthcare..

There are also grave concerns for around 70% of India’s elderly population, who live in villages. Co-morbidities abound and are often left untreated because medical services are far away.

India’s top epidemiologist Jayaprakash Muliyil, who believes up to half of India’s population (670 million people) will get the virus, says that most people with co-morbidities in rural India fail to get treatment.

“This group, and the elderly, are more prone to getting the virus. With limited resources, their families will not rush an elderly person to hospital if they have a fever,” said Muliyil. “They will be allowed to die. That is the reality in rural India where life expectancy is 65.”

Since the deaths will be spread out across huge geographical districts, some as big as 10,000 sq km (London is 1,572 sq km), Muliyil says the real scale of the human tragedy will only emerge much later, if at all.

Virus stigma
Anecdotal evidence also suggests that daily wage labourers will not reveal their symptoms for fear of separation from their families, the stigma, and losing their wages by being quarantined.

“People in the rural areas are hiding their symptoms and are not coming forward to get tested even when the testing van is reaching the village,” said Dr Ravindra Sharma, a senior medical officer in Lakhmipur Kheri district, in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, which neighbours Uttarakhand.

At the other end of the country concern about rural outbreaks worried many in the southern state of Kerala, where a wedding and a funeral attended by one family in one of the state’s most remote villages, Valad, led to 236 new cases.

Kerala, home to coffee and tea plantations, had previously been hailed as a “model” for getting a grip on the pandemic fairly early.

Rural fears
The way the pandemic will play out in rural India, says public health experts, will be very different from the cities where, though it is still raging, doctors and health officials have got the measure of the beast, to some degree at least. That’s thanks to the fact that 80% of doctors and 60% of hospitals are in urban areas.

This relative control will be difficult to replace in large, sprawling states like Uttar Pradesh, with 200 million people, and it’s southern neighbour, Bihar, with 104 million people. Both have extremely fragile medical services.
Riaz Haq said…
#COVIDIOT: Pseudoscience & #Virus Spreading in #India. Baba Ramdev, an instantly recognizable face in India who has made a fortune selling #health supplements, launched what he claimed was an #Ayurvedic cure for #coronavirus. #Modi #BJP #Hindutva #science https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2020/08/amitabh-bachchan-india-coronavirus/615310/


(Amitabh) Bachchan’s diagnosis is markedly different from Hanks’s (though perhaps not so much Charles’s) in one significant respect, however: In the months leading up to his infection, including during India’s draconian lockdown, the Bollywood star promoted homeopathic and pseudoscientific remedies for the coronavirus. His comments on the subject attracted the ire of medical experts on social media, where he was mocked for being anti-science and for potentially, given his outsize influence (he has nearly 80 million followers on Twitter and Facebook combined), encouraging other Indians to turn away from modern medicine in search of treatments for COVID-19.

----------

Its (India's) coronavirus caseload appears to only be worsening, hamstrung by decades of underinvestment in public health, poor medical infrastructure, and, more recently, a troubling official tolerance of pseudoscience, as well as a growing politicization of health care.

The mere fact that Bachchan tested positive—that he was tested at all—will focus minds in India on the coronavirus pandemic, which has been slowly but surely gathering pace in the country. More than 1.8 million people have so far tested positive, upwards of 48,000 are known to have died of COVID-19, and infections show little sign of abating. Arguably India’s most recognizable celebrity, Bachchan has starred in movies for decades, as have his wife, son, and daughter-in-law, and his high-profile announcement may spur many who were skeptical of getting tested to do so (if they are able) and to take greater precautions: He is quite literally cinematic royalty, some combination of Tom Hanks and Prince Charles (both of whose diagnoses made the virus very real for Americans and Britons, respectively).

---------


As health services across India have struggled to deal with the coronavirus—hamstrung by limited testing, too few hospital beds, a low number of doctors in relation to the size of the population, and a shortage of personal protective equipment—the country has found itself racking up some 50,000 new infections every day, more than any other country except the United States and Brazil, and almost certainly an undercount of the true number. After a brutal three-week lockdown that began in March, major cities are once again having to close to try to limit the outbreak. Many restrictions remain in place. Endorsements of homeopathy such as Bachchan’s and the use of unscientific policies and treatments in a bid to address this growing epidemic have undoubtedly contributed to a failure to address it more fully.

Traditional medicine has played a valuable role in Indian health care for time immemorial, helping improve public health in rural and poor communities in tandem with modern science. But wrapping it up in religion and jingoism has proved to be a disservice to those who most rely on it.
Riaz Haq said…
#COVID seems to be spreading faster in #India than any other nation, but officials claim success. There were over 64,500 new #coronavirus cases & 1,099 deaths on Wednesday. Total 2.76 million cases so far in India, 3rd worst affected behind #US & #Brazil. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-in-india-spreading-fast-but-government-claims-strategy-is-working/

India reported more than 64,500 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, taking the total number of people in the South Asian country who have tested positive for the disease over 2.76 million. India remains the third worst affected nation, behind the U.S. and Brazil, in terms of the total number of cases, but it's at the top in terms of new infections.


For the past 15 days, India has clocked more new COVID-19 cases on a daily basis than any other country in the world. The country has added 913,473 new cases in the past 15 days, averaging 60,898 per day. The total number of confirmed cases since the pandemic began has doubled in just 24 days.

If India's infection rate keeps climbing, India may soon overtake Brazil to become the world's second worst affected country in terms of the number of cases.

India has largely phased out what began as the world's biggest coronavirus lockdown. In March the government ordered its 1.3 billion people to stay indoors for all but essential reasons. Most businesses and services were allowed to reopen across large parts of the country weeks ago, but limited restrictions remain on large gatherings and in some virus hotspots.

While India's infection numbers are alarming, the country has reported a lower death rate and a higher recovery rate than most other countries hit hard by the pandemic.

But on Wednesday, India reported 1,099 coronavirus deaths, its highest single-day toll yet, taking the overall death toll over 53,000. That's still less than half the number who have officially died of the disease in Brazil, and it pales in comparison to the more than 175,000 lives lost in the U.S., even though both of those countries have much higher case totals.

---------

But experts continue to voice fears that India's government may be under-reporting coronavirus deaths.

The World Health Organization and independent experts have raised concerns about low testing rates in the world's second most populous country. India has administered over 31 million tests, but that's only about 23,000 tests per million inhabitants — much lower proportionally than in the U.S., Russia and many European countries.

Riaz Haq said…
JNU #Economist Jayati Ghosh on post-#Covid_19 #India:".. best-case scenario is 2 years of very deep economic decline..... at least 100 million people just above the poverty line...will fall below it.” #Modi #coronavirus #BJP #Hindutva #economy #poverty https://time.com/5880585/india-coronavirus-impact/

For those whose daily wages paid for their evening meals, the lockdown had an immediate and devastating effect. When factories and construction sites closed because of the pandemic, many bosses—who often provide their temporary employees with food and board—threw everyone out onto the streets. And because welfare is administered at a state level in India, migrant workers are ineligible for benefits like food rations anywhere other than in their home state. With no food or money, and with train and bus travel suspended, millions had no choice but to immediately set off on foot for their villages, some hundreds of miles away. By mid-May, 3,000 people had died from COVID-19, but at least 500 more had died from “distress deaths” including those due to hunger, road accidents and lack of access to medical facilities, according to a study by the Delhi-based Society for Social and Economic Research. “It was very clear there had been a complete lack of planning and thought to the implications of switching off the economy for the vast majority of Indian workers,” says Yamini Aiyar, president of the Centre for Policy Research, a Delhi think tank.

One migrant worker who decided to make the risky journey on foot was Tapos Mukhi, 25, who set off from Chiplun, a small town in the western state of Maharashtra, toward his village in the eastern state of Odisha, over 1,230 miles away. He had tried to work through the lockdown, but his boss held back his wages, saying he did not have money to pay him immediately. Mukhi took another job at a construction site in June, but after a month of lifting bricks and sacks of cement, a nail went through his foot, forcing him to take a day off. His supervisor called him lazy and told him to leave without the $140 he was owed. On Aug. 1, he walked for a day in the pouring monsoon rain with his wife and 3-year-old daughter, before a local activist arranged for a car to Pune. “We had traveled so far from our village to work,” said Mukhi, sitting on a bunk bed in a shelter in Pune, where activists from a Pune-based NGO had given him and his family train tickets. “But we didn’t get the money we were owed and we didn’t even get food. We have suffered a lot. Now we never want to leave the village again.”

Although Indian policymakers have long been aware of the extent to which the economy relies on informal migrant labor like Mukhi’s—there are an estimated 40 million people like him who regularly travel within the country for work—the lockdown brought this long invisible class of people into the national spotlight. “Something that caught everyone by surprise is how large our migrant labor force is, and how they fall between all the cracks in the social safety net,” says Arvind Subramanian, Modi’s former chief economic adviser, who left government in 2018. Modi was elected in 2014 after a campaign focused on solving India’s development problems, but under his watch economic growth slid from 8% in 2016 to 5% last year, while flagship projects, like making sure everyone in the country has a bank account, have hit roadblocks. “The truth is, India needs migration very badly,” Subramanian says. “It’s a source of dynamism and an escalator for lots of people to get out of poverty. But if you want to get that income improvement for the poor back, you need to make sure the social safety net works better for them.”
Riaz Haq said…

JNU #Economist Jayati Ghosh on post-#Covid_19 #India:".. best-case scenario is 2 years of very deep economic decline..... at least 100 million people just above the poverty line...will fall below it.” #Modi #coronavirus #BJP #Hindutva #economy #poverty https://time.com/5880585/india-coronavirus-impact/


The wide-scale economic disruption caused by the lockdown has disproportionately affected women. Because 95% of employed women work in India’s informal economy, many lost their jobs, even as the burden remained on them to take care of household responsibilities. Many signed up for India’s rural employment scheme, which guarantees a set number of hours of unskilled manual labor. Others sold jewelry or took on debts to pay for meals. “The COVID situation multiplied the burden on women both as economic earners and as caregivers,” says Ravi Verma of the Delhi-based International Center for Research on Women. “They are the frontline defenders of the family.”

But the rural employment guarantee does not extend to urban areas. In Dharavi, a sprawling slum in Mumbai, Rameela Parmar worked as domestic help in three households before the lockdown. But the families told her to stop coming and held back her pay for the last four months. To support her own family, she was forced to take daily wage work painting earthen pots, breathing fumes that make her feel sick. “People have suffered more because of the lockdown than [because of] corona,” Parmar says. “There is no food and no work—that has hurt people more.”

Girls were hit hard too. For Ashwini Pawar, a bright-eyed 12-year-old, the pandemic meant the end of her childhood. Before the lockdown, she was an eighth-grade student who enjoyed school and wanted to be a teacher someday. But her parents were pushed into debt by months of unemployment, forcing her to join them in looking for daily wage work. “My school is shut right now,” said Pawar, clutching the corner of her shawl under a bridge in Pune where temporary workers come to seek jobs. “But even when it reopens I don’t think I will be able to go back.” She and her 13-year-old sister now spend their days at construction sites lifting bags of sand and bricks. “It’s like we’ve gone back 10 years or more in terms of gender-equality achievements,” says Nitya Rao, a gender and development professor who advises the U.N. on girls’ education.

In an attempt to stop the economic nosedive, Modi shifted his messaging in May. “Corona will remain a part of our lives for a long time,” he said in a televised address. “But at the same time, we cannot allow our lives to be confined only around corona.” He announced a relief package worth $260 billion, about 10% of the country’s GDP. But only a fraction of this came as extra handouts for the poor, with the majority instead devoted to tiding over businesses. In the televised speech announcing the package, Modi spoke repeatedly about making India a self-sufficient economy. It was this that made Prajapati lose hope in ever getting government support. “Modiji said that we have to become self-reliant,” he said, still referring to the Prime Minister with an honorific suffix. “What does that mean? That we can only depend on ourselves. The government has left us all alone.”
Riaz Haq said…
#China, #Pakistan eyeing #CPEC long term cooperation. Meanwhile, #India has stirred up trouble with its neighboring countries in past few months due to #Modi government's need to shift public attention from its failure to respond to #Covid_19- Global Times https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1198449.shtml#.Xz_9CEYNsQY.twitter

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a verbal message to Pakistani President Arif Alvi on Friday, in which he mentioned President Alvi sent a congratulation letter to the opening of the second meeting of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Political Parties Joint Consultation Mechanism, which shows Alvi highly values the bilateral relations and CPEC. Friday also saw a second strategic dialogue between the two countries, during which speeding up projects under the CPEC was highly anticipated.

Political parties of China and Pakistan conduct regular consultations to build political consensus, which is conducive to the long-term development of the CPEC, Xi said.

The message was sent after the virtual second meeting of CPEC Political Parties Joint Consultation Mechanism ended on Thursday.

The CPEC is a landmark project of the Belt and Road Initiative, which is of great significance to deepen the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership between Pakistan and China, and forge an even closer community of shared future.

The CPEC is likely among the top agendas during the second strategic dialogue between the foreign ministers of China and Pakistan that ends on Friday, along with topics on a joint response to challenges caused by COVID-19, and other regional and international issues, Chinese analysts said.

The two-day second strategic dialogue, co-chaired by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, was held in South China's Hainan Province on Thursday and Friday.

This strategic dialogue is highly relevant and significant as the two sides will hold in-depth exchanges of views on anti-epidemic cooperation, bilateral relations and regional and international issues of common concern, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at Thursday's media briefing.

The two foreign ministers agreed to accelerate the Belt and Road Initiative to benefit people of the two countries. The CPEC has entered a new phase with high quality development, and will complete projects under construction in a timely manner, create more jobs, improve people's livelihood, and strengthen cooperation in industrial parks, human resources training, poverty alleviation, health care and agriculture, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Qureshi called his visit to China a "very important trip" before his departure, and the Foreign Office of Pakistan said in a statement that the visit will be important in further strengthening Pakistan-China's all-weather strategic cooperative partnership and deepen strategic communication and coordination with China on a range of issues, according to Pakistani media reports.

---

The COVID-19 pandemic caused some delays to projects under the CPEC, and the two sides are likely to adjust the speed of delivery and come up with practical suggestions to further advance the CPEC, Fu said.

Earlier in August, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council of Pakistan approved the Main Line-1 (ML-1) project involving the upgrade of the railway track between Karachi and Peshawar — one project under the CPEC.

The Pakistani Minister for Railways Sheikh, Rasheed Ahmad, said on Thursday that the ML-1 railway project will prove to be a milestone in the country's development journey, as it would boost industrialization and create new opportunities for locals.

The dialogue also attracted much attention from India's media outlets, with some saying that fraught ties with India will be a "key topic" of the dialogue.
Riaz Haq said…
India’s poor state and illiberal democracy

https://theprint.in/theprint-otc/india-needs-clear-foreign-policy-as-world-heads-to-us-china-bipolar-order-fareed-zakaria-says/469592/


https://youtu.be/qXSnnSmJVmI


A large part of the conversation was focused on India, and Zakaria touched upon several topics such as the country’s rising ‘illiberal democracy’, the lack of an efficient state, New Delhi’s “poor” diplomatic capacity, and the “absence” of clear strategic thinking in terms of foreign policy.

He criticised the Indian government’s pandemic response and argued that a deeply “inefficient state” is to be blamed for it.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the Indian government, and by that I mean the Delhi government, has handled this crisis very poorly,” he remarked.

“Indian government functions very poorly, even in comparison to other developing countries. Coronavirus has highlighted that reality,” added Zakaria.

Talking about the rise of ‘illiberal democracy’ in India over the past few years, Zakaria said, “Sadly, India has moved closer to Erdogan’s Turkey instead of Britain or France.”

He mentioned the increasing lack of free press and the erosion of institutions as key factors behind India’s weakening of liberal democracy. Zakaria argued that India is too diverse a place — almost like a continent in itself — and democracy is the only way to govern it.

“What I wonder about (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is, is he really bringing all of India along with him?” asked Zakaria.

------------------

Talking about China under Xi, Zakaria thought that the President had been charting his country in the wrong direction. “Imagine China without Xi Jinping and you would imagine a very different trajectory,” said Zakaria.

In terms of dealing with the crisis at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Zakaria said that diplomacy was the way to go ahead for now.

“In a way, India seems like roadkill for China’s obsession with absolute control over their borders. I do think there is an opportunity here for diplomacy,” he said. “I don’t think India needs to be confrontational about it (the LAC issue), but of course it should push back.”

Zakaria said Indian diplomats should reach out to China and work towards a settlement as this shouldn’t go on for the next 30 years.

“For the long term, India needs to decide it’s position with China,” he said.

Zakaria thought that India was in a better position than most other states to manage a balancing act between economic ties with China and a strategic relationship with the US, owing to its large size.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan gives go-ahead to Phase 3 #COVID-19 vaccine trial. #Pakistan National Institute of Health (NIH) to lead the trial along with #pharmaceutical company AJM which represents #China's CanSino. #Mexico & #SaudiArabia also their doing large-scale trials https://reut.rs/2EfaxVI

Pakistan’s drug regulator greenlit the country’s first Phase 3 clinical trial for a potential COVID-19 vaccine, which is being developed by China’s CanSino Biologics (CanSino) and Beijing Institute of Biotechnology.

The trial is slated to begin next month, according to an official who will coordinate the exercise.

Government-run National Institute of Health (NIH) will be leading the trial for the candidate Ad5-nCoV along with pharmaceutical company AJM - the local representative of CanSino.

China has already approved the vaccine for use by its military after early and mid-stage trials, and further late-stage trials are being lined up for Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

CanSino last month said it was in talks for opportunities to launch Phase 3 trials in Saudi Arabia, Russia, Brazil and Chile.

NIH and AJM signed an agreement last month, and were awaiting clearance from the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), which NIH says it had now received.

“DRAP has approved a target Group of 10,000 participants for our clinical trial,” Hassan Abbas Zaheer, the coordinator of the trials for AJM, told Reuters via email.

The study will be conducted across major medical research centres in Pakistan, located in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore.

Zaheer added the clinical trial will last for “some months” and the data generated in all participating countries will be collected by CanSino regularly and analysed.

Pakistan has so far registered 289,831 COVID-19 cases and 6,190 deaths, but has seen daily infection numbers slow markedly in August after peaking in June.
Riaz Haq said…
Coronavirus: Youthful Pakistan appears to avoid worst of pandemic
By Secunder Kermani
BBC News

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-53742214

With around 6,000 coronavirus deaths in a population of approximately 230 million people, Pakistan appears to have fared far better than most Western countries. The UK, for example, has recorded more than 41,000 deaths in a population of around 67 million. Cities in neighbouring India, such as Delhi and Mumbai, seem to have been worse affected.

----------

Testing has been relatively low, and numbers are in fact decreasing. There are certainly many more coronavirus cases than the roughly 290,000 officially recorded, but the recorded drop in infections is substantiated by the fact that the proportion of tests that come back as positive has also been decreasing, as have hospital admissions.

Data obtained by the BBC from officials in the country's two largest cities, Karachi and Lahore, show that there was a significant rise in graveyard burials in June that can't be explained by coronavirus deaths alone.

For example, in Miani Sahib graveyard, the largest in Lahore, in June 2020 there were 1,176 burials this June, compared to 696 in June last year.

Only 48 of the burials this June were of officially recorded coronavirus patients. The rise is likely to be a combination of undetected coronavirus deaths, and patients suffering from other illnesses not getting treatment as hospitals were under such pressure.

Similarly, in Karachi, June 2020 saw significantly more burials than at any other time during the past two years.

However, in both cities burial figures appear to be returning to more normal rates. Even if some of the "excess deaths" are assumed to be the result of coronavirus, by international standards the mortality rate in Pakistan appears to be relatively low, though not quite as low as official data would suggest.

For leading Pakistani epidemiologist Dr Rana Jawad Asghar, the principal reason for this is Pakistan's young population. The average age in Pakistan is 22 years, compared to about 41 in the UK. The vast majority of deaths globally from the coronavirus have been of elderly patients.

Dr Asghar told the BBC that less than 4% of Pakistan's population is aged 65 and above, whereas in more developed countries the proportion is around 20-25%. "That is why we haven't seen that many deaths in Pakistan," he said.
Riaz Haq said…
In Pakistan – the world’s fifth-largest country by population – 24 million breadwinners rely on daily wages or are self-employed in the informal economy. For them, life came to a standstill with the implementation of a lockdown in March, causing a widespread loss of income that began fueling civil unrest and rioting.


by Sania Nishtar


https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/703439-the-ehsaas-experience



To mitigate the pandemic’s socioeconomic damage, Pakistan’s government created the Ehsaas Emergency Cash program, the largest social-protection program in the country’s history. Rolled out ten days after lockdown began, it is delivering one-time cash grants totaling more than $1.2 billion to more than 16.9 million households, covering around 109 million people – approximately 50 percent of the country’s population. Recipient families are given Rs12,000 ($75) to cover their immediate subsistence needs.

---------------

Prior to the delivery of Ehsaas cash, I saw unspeakable suffering among people from many walks of life. There were day laborers and hawkers, hotel and restaurant staff, and domestic servants, security guards, and drivers. There were also laid-off public-transport employees, fishermen and miners, beauticians and barbers, and millions of shopkeepers – all on the verge of hunger, with their savings used up. They, along with private-school teachers, electricians, welders, painters, carpenters, plumbers, car mechanics, taxi drivers, and construction workers, did not know where their next meal would come from.

These stories were repeated across industries and regions, with even those used to earning a decent living suddenly wondering if their finances would ever add up again. But the handouts brought stability and comfort to millions of families, and the whole country watched as countless tragedies were averted.

Beyond the immediate crisis, the success of Ehsaas Emergency Cash offers Pakistan and other middle- and low-income countries invaluable experience in speedily delivering a massive national program in a complex and uncertain context. In order to share this knowledge, the government recently released a report describing the knowhow we gained through the program’s design and implementation, as well as the operational challenges we encountered and how they were addressed. The report can be accessed at: https://www.pass.gov.pk/Document/Downloads/EECreportAugust10.pdf
Riaz Haq said…
Fareed Zakaria on #India:"is (#Modi) really bringing all of India along with him?” It's an “inefficient state”...“Indian government functions very poorly, even in comparison to other developing countries. Coronavirus has highlighted that reality" #COVID19 https://theprint.in/theprint-otc/india-needs-clear-foreign-policy-as-world-heads-to-us-china-bipolar-order-fareed-zakaria-says/469592/


ndia’s poor state and illiberal democracy

https://theprint.in/theprint-otc/india-needs-clear-foreign-policy-as-world-heads-to-us-china-bipolar-order-fareed-zakaria-says/469592/


https://youtu.be/qXSnnSmJVmI


A large part of the conversation was focused on India, and Zakaria touched upon several topics such as the country’s rising ‘illiberal democracy’, the lack of an efficient state, New Delhi’s “poor” diplomatic capacity, and the “absence” of clear strategic thinking in terms of foreign policy.

He criticised the Indian government’s pandemic response and argued that a deeply “inefficient state” is to be blamed for it.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the Indian government, and by that I mean the Delhi government, has handled this crisis very poorly,” he remarked.

“Indian government functions very poorly, even in comparison to other developing countries. Coronavirus has highlighted that reality,” added Zakaria.

Talking about the rise of ‘illiberal democracy’ in India over the past few years, Zakaria said, “Sadly, India has moved closer to Erdogan’s Turkey instead of Britain or France.”

He mentioned the increasing lack of free press and the erosion of institutions as key factors behind India’s weakening of liberal democracy. Zakaria argued that India is too diverse a place — almost like a continent in itself — and democracy is the only way to govern it.

“What I wonder about (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is, is he really bringing all of India along with him?” asked Zakaria.

------------------

Talking about China under Xi, Zakaria thought that the President had been charting his country in the wrong direction. “Imagine China without Xi Jinping and you would imagine a very different trajectory,” said Zakaria.

In terms of dealing with the crisis at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Zakaria said that diplomacy was the way to go ahead for now.

“In a way, India seems like roadkill for China’s obsession with absolute control over their borders. I do think there is an opportunity here for diplomacy,” he said. “I don’t think India needs to be confrontational about it (the LAC issue), but of course it should push back.”

Zakaria said Indian diplomats should reach out to China and work towards a settlement as this shouldn’t go on for the next 30 years.

“For the long term, India needs to decide it’s position with China,” he said.

Zakaria thought that India was in a better position than most other states to manage a balancing act between economic ties with China and a strategic relationship with the US, owing to its large size.
Riaz Haq said…
How Did Pakistan Flatten the Coronavirus Curve?
Despite ending its lockdown early, Pakistan managed to flatten the curve. But the country is still far from achieving herd immunity.

https://thediplomat.com/2020/08/how-did-pakistan-flatten-the-coronavirus-curve/

The government reopened the economy in phases and in doing so achieved the impossible by flattening the curve. But, as the saying goes, things are not always what they seem.

A seroprevalence study, conducted in July by the Health Services Academy (HSA) in collaboration with multiple partners including the Agha Khan University Hospital and World Health Organization, estimated 11 percent of Pakistanis have developed COVID-19 antibodies while 89 percent remain at risk.

“It means that every 10th Pakistani has developed antibodies in their blood against the SARS-Cov-2 virus,” reads the study. People between the age of 20 to 60, current smokers, urban residents, and those who have had contact with a known COVID-19 positive person were found more prone to be exposed to the virus.

“There is a very large number out there that needs to be protected from the virus,” said National Command and Operations Center (NCOC) chief Asad Umar.

Epidemiologist Dr. Rana Jawad Asghar interprets the findings to be in line with global studies suggesting 11 to 20 percent of the population in most countries have been exposed to the virus.

“The 11 percent could also represent the most vulnerable of the population and the remaining may not be susceptible to the virus,” he added, while expressing doubts over the seroprevalence study’s accuracy.

The Mystery of the Flattened Curve

The scientist-recommended strategy to contain the spread has been lockdowns, testing, and contact tracing. But it is nearly impossible to get a developing country where two-thirds of the population relies on daily wages to stay at home.

“There is a universal acknowledgment that the virus’ spread can be slowed down through behavioral change in the society,” said Umar. “It can be voluntary with the masses informed of the risk and how to save themselves or it can be administratively enforced. We chose to do both.”

He explained Pakistan’s strategy: “Media played an important role in creating awareness, which was backed by our testing, contact tracing, and quarantine program. We managed to increase testing capacity in a very short period and applied a sophisticated tracking system that ran through the ground to apex level.

“At one point, we had over 10,000 contract workers and more than 3,000 contact tracing teams. It became an integral part of our strategy coupled with smart lockdowns in high-risk areas and hotspots and SOP compliance. Those in violation were fined or sealed.”

Despite the SOPs (standard operating procedures) and smart lockdowns, a walk through Karachi’s streets on a midsummer’s evening in mid-July showed business as usual.

“For the first three months, we saw a significant change in behavior. People wore masks and maintained social distancing. Once the cases slowed down, we saw less adherence to the SOPs,” said Umar.

This was followed by Eid-ul Adha celebrations, which also fueled local tourism with thousands driving to the mountains during the holidays. The curve, however, continued on a downward trajectory.

Asghar, the epidemiologist, said he had found the high cases tally and death toll projections for Pakistan incredulous. “Outbreaks don’t behave in such a way,” he explained. “If there is an outbreak in a city, it doesn’t mean every person living in the city will get infected.”

The worst-hit countries have an average age of 35-45 with a high mortality rate in the geriatric population due to the virus’ spread in old-age homes. In contrast, Pakistan has a young population and a social construct that vetoes elderly placements in group homes.

It is not astounding, then, that the study found seropositivity more common in young adults and significantly less in children and older adults. It was also more prevalent in urban areas than rural.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #Mobile #broadband subscriptions grow to 82.76 million. Remote #work, #education, #ecommerce in #COVID19 #lockdown driving growth. Universal Service Fund investing to expand access in underserved area to reduce #DigitalDivide| The Express Tribune https://tribune.com.pk//story/2261272/remote-work-online-education-drive-broadband-growth-in-pakistan

With remote working and online education becoming a norm since the imposition of Covid-19-induced lockdown in March 2020, there has been a surge in 4G consumption whereas 3G demand has continued to decline.

According to latest statistics released by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, the number of overall mobile phone subscribers grew from 167.27 million in June 2020 to 168.04 million by the end of July 2020.

Similarly, the number of mobile broadband (3G and 4G) subscribers expanded from 81.14 million to 82.76 million in the same period, registering an increase of 1.62 million.

In terms of 4G market share, Jazz has the largest customer base of 19.98 million, followed by Zong at 18.13 million, Telenor 11.58 million and Ufone 4.22 million.

Public and economic policy analyst Hasaan Khawar believes the generational shift to mobile broadband networks will gain further momentum with improved coverage of higher-speed networks, rationalised tax regime for cellphone use and execution of schemes under the Digital Pakistan initiative.

At present, a significant number of mobile phone users in Pakistan have basic, voice-only devices because of high taxes including customs duty, sales tax and other levies, putting higher-end handsets beyond the reach of many citizens.

The biggest barrier to the provision of internet connectivity to the lower-income segments of society remains the affordability of smartphones.

Sharing his perspective of industry trends in Pakistan, Jazz CCO Asif Aziz told The Express Tribune that growing data demand from customers was leading to faster adoption of 4G compared to its predecessor 3G.

In partnership with the Universal Service Fund, created by the government to extend telecom services to the un-served and underserved areas, he revealed that Jazz was initiating projects to provide high-speed internet to the underserved areas. Lately, a contract has been awarded for providing internet connections to over two million citizens residing in Ghotki, Sukkur and Khairpur districts.

Talking about the challenges his company faced during the Covid-19 pandemic, Aziz disclosed that Jazz suffered a 7.9% decline in revenue in the last quarter of FY20 as compared to the corresponding period of FY19, mainly due to lockdowns, currency headwinds and the impact of tax changes.

“Excluding the tax changes, the revenue would have increased by 0.5% year-on-year despite the challenges posed by the pandemic during the quarter,” he emphasised.

Responding to a question, the company official said Jazz was working towards a digitally progressive and inclusive Pakistan by improving digital infrastructure, enhancing connectivity, investing in digital skills and literacy, providing mobile financial services to the unbanked population, and promoting entrepreneurship and innovation.

According to a GSMA report published recently, Pakistan’s telecom operators invested $5.3 billion between 2010 and 2018, but average capital expenditure (capex) as a proportion of revenue was below 23%. In other middle-income countries, the ratio was comparatively higher as Uzbekistan had a ratio of 36%, Iran 31% and Sri Lanka 27%.

The report suggests if Pakistan wants to forge ahead and build the digital momentum, appropriate policy decisions are needed, especially with regard to spectrum pricing to embolden operator investment and ensure the country does not fall behind regional leaders in rolling out next-generation networks.
Riaz Haq said…
This week, #India saw the highest one-day world record of more than 77,000 since the #COVIDー19 #pandemic began. Model predicts India will shortly overtake #Brazil, putting it 2nd to the #UnitedStates in total cases. It could soon overtake the #US in cases https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/india-coronavirus-largest-daily-cases/2020/08/28/7cf61f0a-e7c1-11ea-bf44-0d31c85838a5_story.html


India is recording around 1,000 deaths a day from the coronavirus, roughly the same as the United States and Brazil, and given the rising number of cases, that toll appears likely to continue or increase. In terms of deaths per million people, India has fared far better than the United States, Brazil and Italy, but not as well as neighboring countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

-------------

It took more than five months for India to reach the bleak milestone of 1 million cases of the novel coronavirus.

The next million came in just 21 days. The third million was faster still: 16 days.

The increase in cases is unlikely to ebb anytime soon, experts say, as a galloping outbreak spreads to new parts of the country and political leaders continue to reopen the economy. This week, India recorded the highest one-day jump in new cases — more than 77,000 — anywhere in the world since the pandemic began.

Bhramar Mukherjee, a biostatistician at the University of Michigan who developed a model to predict India’s outbreak, said the country will shortly overtake Brazil, putting it second to the United States in total cases.

“The only question is whether India is going to catch up with the United States,” she said.

The virus has now spread throughout the world’s second-most-populous country, reaching even isolated Indigenous tribes in a far-flung Indian territory. The pandemic has also crippled economic activity — experts believe the economy contracted by 20 percent in the three months to June — with only anemic signs of recovery.

Yet there is little alarm and even less outrage. The coronavirus often slips off the front pages, and national health officials conduct briefings only once a week. Overall approval ratings for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi remain sky-high, although a quarter of those polled in the same recent survey said the handling of the pandemic was his biggest failure.

Government officials regularly highlight India’s comparatively low rate of deaths as a percentage of cases to indicate their efforts are working. Testing has increased dramatically but remains far below many other countries on a per capita basis. Some find reassurance in India’s overall fatality figure of about 62,000, which is lower than in Brazil and the United States at similar points in their respective outbreaks.
Riaz Haq said…
WHO lists #Pakistan among 7 countries world can learn from to fight future #pandemics . Says Pakistan used infrastructure developed in fight against polio to tackle #Covid_19 | The Express Tribune

http://tribune.com.pk/story/2263406/who-lists-pakistan-among-7-countries-world-can-learn-from-to-fight-future-pandemics


According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, while speaking at the media briefing, highlighted seven countries, amongst many, whose preparation and response offer lessons for the rest of the world in how to deal with a global pandemic. These countries include Pakistan, Italy, Thailand, Mongolia, Mauritius and Uruguay.

“Pakistan has used the infrastructure it developed in its fight against polio to tackle Covid-19,” said the director general. “Community health workers, previously used to vaccinate children for polio, have been redeployed for contact tracing and monitoring.”

Similarly, Thailand has benefited from 40 years of health system strengthening, Dr Tedros explained. “A well-resourced medical and public health system is supported by strong leadership. Coupled with 1 million village health volunteers, and strong communication, the nation has built trust and compliance and confidence among the general population," he said.

Italy was one of the first countries to experience a large outbreak outside of China, said Dr Tedros. It "took hard decisions based on the evidence and persisted with them". Unity and solidarity, along with the dedication of health workers, helped bring the outbreak under control, he explained.

Mongolia also reacted quickly. It activated its State Emergency Committee in January and didn't report a case until January, and still has no reported deaths.

Mauritius used previous experience with contact-tracing and a swift response to overcome high-risk issues - high population density, high rate of non-communicable diseases and lots of international travellers.


Uruguay has one of Latin America's most 'robust and resilient' health systems in Latin America, explained Dr Tedros. Sustainable investments in public health were built on political consensus, he added.

There are many other countries that have done well, added Dr Tedros. From Japan to New Zealand and Vietnam, many countries have fared better because of lessons learned during previous outbreaks of disease, such as SARS or Ebola.

Having learned the lessons of previous pandemics, it's therefore, "vital that we learn the lessons this pandemic is teaching us," he added.

Dr Tedros also issued a stark warning about the work needed to prepare the world for future pandemics. "This will not be the last pandemic," he told the media briefing.

"History teaches us that outbreaks and pandemics are a fact of life. But when the next pandemic comes, the world must be ready – more ready than it was this time."

Dr Tedros called on countries to invest in public health, as a "foundation of social, economic and political stability".
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan has used the infrastructure it developed in its fight against polio to tackle COVID-19, said the Director-General. Community health workers, previously used to vaccinate children for polio, have been redeployed for contact tracing and monitoring.


https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/09/5-countries-we-can-all-learn-from-to-fight-future-pandemics-according-to-the-who

7 countries (Pakistan, Italy, Thailand, Mongolia, Mauritius and Uruguay) to learn from

The Director-General highlighted 7 countries, amongst many, whose preparation and response offer lessons for the rest of the world.

Thailand

Thailand has benefited from 40 years of health system strengthening, he explained.

A well-resourced medical and public health system is supported by strong leadership. Coupled with 1 million village health volunteers, and strong communication, the nation has built trust and compliance and confidence among the general population, he said.

Italy

Italy was one of the first countries to experience a large outbreak outside of China, said Dr Tedros. It "took hard decisions based on the evidence and persisted with them". Unity and solidarity, along with the dedication of health workers, helped bring the outbreak under control, he explained.

Mongolia

Mongolia also reacted quickly. It activated its State Emergency Committee in January and didn't report a case until January and still has no reported deaths.

Mauritius

Mauritius used previous experience with contact-tracing and a swift response to overcome high-risk issues - high population density, high rate of non-communicable diseases and lots of international travellers.

Uruguay

Uruguay has one of Latin America's most 'robust and resilient' health systems in Latin America, explained Dr Tedros. Sustainable investments in public health were built on political consensus, he added.

Pakistan

Pakistan has used the infrastructure it developed in its fight against polio to tackle COVID-19, said the Director-General. Community health workers, previously used to vaccinate children for polio, have been redeployed for contact tracing and monitoring.


And more...

There are many other countries who've done well, added Dr Tedros. From Japan to New Zealand and Viet Nam, many countries have fared better because of lessons learned during previous outbreaks of disease, such as SARS or Ebola.

Having learned the lessons of previous pandemics, it's therefore "vital that we learn the lessons this pandemic is teaching us," he concluded.


------------


Dr Tedros called on countries to invest in public health, as a "foundation of social, economic and political stability".

Significant progress has been made in medicine, he said, but too many countries have neglected their public health systems:

"Part of every country’s commitment to build back better must therefore be to invest in public health, as an investment in a healthier and safer future."

But there are countries the rest of the world can learn from, he said in his opening remarks. Here's a summary of what he said.

Popular posts from this blog

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

Karachi's NED University Alum Raises $100 Million For Silicon Valley FinTech Startup

Antibodies Testing in Karachi Reveals COVID19 Exposure Runs in Double Digits