With Covid19 Under Control, Pakistan Enjoys V-Shaped Recovery in Manufacturing

With coronavirus spread contained, Pakistan economy is rebounding with V-shaped economic recovery.   Pakistanis have once again defied all foreign and domestic doomsayers, including media, activists and think tanks of all varieties. The nation's monthly Quantum Index of Manufacturing (QIM) for July 2020 has returned to where it was a year ago in July 2019, according to data released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.  Meanwhile, the number of daily new cases has declined from over 6,000 a day in June to around 500 a day now. There has also been dramatic reduction in hospital admissions and the need for intensive care. The LSMI output increased by 5.02% for July, 2020 compared to July, 2019 and 9.54% in June, 2020.  The recovery in manufacturing is quite broad, extending from cement production to fuel sales and growing demand for automobiles to home appliances, according to Bloomberg News.  Pakistan has successfully overcome the challenges posed  by the pandemic and its economic impact. Khan-Bajwa cooperation has been one of the keys to the country's success in dealing with the twin crises.



Covid19 Cases in Pakistan. Source: Our World in Data


Broad Recovery: 

The recovery in manufacturing is quite broad, extending from cement production to fuel sales and growing demand for automobiles to home appliances, according to Bloomberg News. The nation's monthly Quantum Index of Manufacturing (QIM) for July 2020 has returned to where it was a year ago in July 2019, according to data released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.  Meanwhile, the number of daily new cases has declined from over 6,000 a day in June to around 500 a day now.  There has also been dramatic reduction in hospital admissions and the need for intensive care. The LSMI output has increased by 5.02% for July, 2020 compared to July, 2019 and 9.54% if compared to June 2020. Month-wise trend of QIM from July, 2018 to July, 2020.    

Pakistan Monthly Quantum Index of Manufacturing. Source: PBS

Cement Sales: 

Pakistan is once again experiencing a construction boom with new incentives under Naya Pakistan Housing Program. Monthly cement sales rose to near all-time high of almost 5 million tons in July 2020 as construction activity picked up in both housing and CPEC-related projects. 

Pakistan Cement Sales. Source: Bloomberg


Car Sales:

Gasoline sales in June, 2020 hit new record  and local car deliveries rose to about 10,000 units as people returned to work after easing of lockdown in May, 2020. Kia Motors Corp.’s local unit is planning to add a second shift at its factory in Karachi from January.  

Pakistan Car Sales Recovery. Source: Bloomberg

Multiple Sectors Growing: 

Sectors including food, beverages & tobacco, coke & petroleum products, pharmaceuticals and non metallic mineral products saw an increase in production in July 2020.  Muzzammil Aslam, chief executive officer at Tangent Capital Advisors Pvt., was quoted by Bloomberg as saying, “It has surprised everybody".  Aslam expects Pakistan economy at 4%-5% in current fiscal year, higher than the government’s 2.1% target. “The growth is led by an aggregate demand push.”

Summary:

Pakistanis have defied all foreign and domestic doomsayers, including media, activists and think tanks of all varieties. Pakistan has successfully fought off the deadly COVID19 virus and begun to bounce back economically. Moody's rating agency has raised Pakistan's economic outlook from "under review for downgrade" to "stable". Pakistan's Planning Minister Asad Umar is talking of a "V-shaped recovery". Monthly cement sales have rebounded to pre-pandemic level, fuel sales have increased, tax collection is up,  exports are rising and the Karachi stock market is booming again. Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief General Javed Bajwa have been on the same page in tackling the health and economic crises faced by Pakistan. Contrary to the critics of Pakistan's civil-military ties,  Khan-Bajwa cooperation has been one of the keys to the country's success in dealing with the twin crises.

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Comments

Riaz Haq said…
In the outgoing FY (2019-20), Pakistani expatriates remitted a record of $23.12 billion with more than 6% year-on-year (YoY) growth compared to $21.74 of FY 2018-19.


http://tribune.com.pk/article/97174/the-curious-case-of-pakistans-spiralling-remittances

The momentum has not only persisted but amplified in on-going FY 21 with a whopping $2.77 billion remittance in July, followed by an inflow of $2.095 billion in August. This unprecedented surge is bemusing, and what has baffled many is the fact that this escalation has occurred during the pandemic. So, what could the potential triggers to this mammoth inflow be?
The extraordinary leap can be primarily due to the tightening of informal money markets, which has augmented the inflow through formal banking channels. In the budget for FY 2020-21, the incumbents allocated Rs25 billion to formalise foreign remittances, which would aid in stockpiling foreign exchange reserves to service colossal national debt obligations.
Pakistanis typically used to carry cash in their luggage physically. But due to flight reduction and sparse international travels, they would have been compelled to access official banking channels for money transfers. Also, remittances might have incremented on account of significant job losses in the Gulf region due to the Covid-related recession. Hence the spiral may demonstrate high one-time repatriation of money back to Pakistan.
On the other hand, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has emphasised an orderly ‘market-based’ exchange rate management and sound policymaking under the Pakistan Remittance Initiative. The SBP sheds the spotlight on the reduction of the threshold for eligible transactions from $200 to $100 under the Reimbursement of Telegraphic Transfer (TT) Charges Scheme. It also stressed on adoption of digital channels and targeted marketing campaigns to promote formal routes. Similarly, IT-related freelance services’ payment limits have increased from $5,000 to $25,000 per individual per month. The SBP believes that it has facilitated to enhance home remittances through formal banking channels in Pakistan.
The crux of the matter is remittances will upslope further in the future due to effectuated compliance of formal banking channels. Still, the recent abnormal increment will ease down in the coming months when the western economies recuperate from the ramifications of the Covid-related slump.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan earns $1.44 billion in #IT #exports, up 20.72% from $1.19 billion from last year. #computer services exports grew 23.44% as it surged to $1,106 million from US $ 895.990 million last year. #technology #economy #trade https://dunyanews.tv/en/Business/561082-Pakistan-earns-US$1438-million-from-IT-services-export-during-FY2019-20

Pakistan earned US $ 1438.827 million by providing different information technology (IT) services in various countries during July-June (2019-20).

This shows growth of 20.72 percent when compared to US $ 1191.864 million earned through provision of services during the corresponding period of fiscal year 2018-19, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) reported.

During the period under review, the computer services grew by 23.44 percent as it surged from US $ 895.990 million last year to US $ 1106.027 million during July-June (2019-20).

Among the computer services, the exports of software consultancy services witnessed increase of 14.98 percent, from US $ 354.397 million to US $ 407.492 million while the export and import of computer software related services also rose by 11.62 percent, from US $ 285.235 million to US $ 318.368 million.

The exports of hardware consultancy services decreased by 16.55 from, US$ 2.345 million to US$ 1.957 million whereas the exports of other computer services rose by 51.91 percent from US$ 247.976 million to US $ 376.699 million. In addition the export of repair and maintenance services however witness decline of 74.97 percent from $6.037 million to $1.511 million.

Meanwhile, the export of information services during the period under review increased by 61.39 percent by going up from US $ 1.580 million to US $ 2.550 million.

Among the information services, the exports of news agency services increased by 100.89 percent, from US $ 0.677 million to US $ 1.360 million whereas the exports of other information services also increased by 31.78 percent, from US $ 0.903 million to US $ 1.190 million.

The export of telecommunication services also witness increase of 12.22 percent as these went up from US $ 294.294 million to 330.250 million during the fiscal year under review, the data revealed.

Among the telecommunication services, the export of call centre services increased by 26.17 percent during the period as its exports increased from US $ 98.858 million to US $ 124.730 million whereas the export of other telecommunication services also increased by 5.16 percent, from US $ 195.436 million to US $205.520 million during the period under review, the PBS data revealed.

It is pertinent to mention here that the services trade deficit of the country during the fiscal year (2019-20) decreased by 42.96 percent as compared to the corresponding period of last year.

During the period from July-June, 2019-20, services exports decreased by 8.66 percent, whereas imports reduced by 24.25 percent, according the data released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

The services worth US $ 5.449 billion exported during the period under review as compared the exports of US $ 5.966 billion in same period of last year, whereas imports of services into the country was recorded at US $ 8.284 billion as against the imports of US $ 10.936 billion, the data revealed.

Riaz Haq said…
Slim chance of second #Covid_19 wave in #Pakistan. 36% of the workforce in #Karachi, the country’s largest city and commercial capital, have already developed #immunity against the COVID-19, according to #antibodies study. #coronavirus http://v.aa.com.tr/1978436

The latest study by Pakistan's leading blood diseases institute suggests there is a slim chance of a second wave of the novel coronavirus here, further strengthening the government's policy of reopening of businesses.

The cross-sectional study conducted from May to July at the National Institute of Blood Diseases (NIBD) Karachi, has been published by the Oxford University Press's Journal of Public Health.

Titled, “Challenges in acquiring herd immunity for COVID-19,” the study conducted by a team of microbiologist, hematologists and pathologists, led by Dr Samreen Zaidi, includes nearly 1,700 people from three groups – health care, community and industrial workers.

https://academic.oup.com/jpubhealth/advance-article/doi/10.1093/pubmed/fdaa170/5906459


It included adult male and female participants, who ranged in age from 18 to 60.

The study conducted to assess antibodies levels in diverse a group of residents to comprehend prevalence in the community, revealed that 36% of the workforce of Karachi, the country’s largest city and commercial capital, have already developed immunity against the COVID-19.

"This study has been instigated to evaluate the seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in different healthcare and community population from Karachi and with the aim of assessing the importance of seroprevalence in these groups," the report said.

The overall seroprevalence or the immunity rate, it added, is found to be 36% with highest positivity in industrial employees (50.5%), whereas only 13% of health care workers tested positive.

Moreover, the community that comprised of healthy blood donors and walk-in patients for antibody testing had a 34% positivity rate.

Seroprevalence is the incidence of a disease or illness within a distinct population at one time, as measured by serology tests.

The seroprevalence rate, the study pointed out, identified in the US population varies from 1.9 to 6.9%, which is very low compared to Pakistan.

The seropositivity rates reported were 10.8% and 5.0% from Switzerland and Spain, respectively.

Herd immunity

The study showed that one-third of Karachi's industrial population developed immunity against the COVID-19, which is still far from the 60% to 70 herd immunity that is needed.

"In addition, if we consider acquiring 60% of seroprevalence in next couple of months, then herd immunity is not far from reality provided the antibodies did not decline with time," the report said. "The present study raises the possibility that if 36% of adult population of Karachi is supposed to be seropositive, then we can hypothesize that in the next 2–3 months 60% of general population will become seropositive [immune].”

However, according to Dr. Samreen Zaidi, follow up studies show that the seroprevalence rate has reached 60%, as per expectations.

"We, on the basis of a gradual drop in cases, and other relevant factors, assume that there are low chances of a second wave of coronavirus, " Zaidi told Anadolu Agency.

However, she acknowledged "assumptions are assumptions."

"The only limitation with this study is that our sample size is small. Therefore, we have recommended a further and wide-ranging research on the government level to double check the results of this study," she maintained.

Riaz Haq said…
#India continued its surge in #coronavirus cases, adding 93,337 new confirmed infections in the past 24 hours to reach a national caseload to more than 5.3 million, with the death toll reaching 85,619. #COVID19 #Modi #BJP #Hindutva https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/east-asia/article/3102214/coronavirus-latest-indias-cases-surge-japan-relaxes-rules-crowd


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

#India's #Economy Heads for Double-Digit Plunge as #CoronaVirus Spikes. Goldman Sachs estimates a 14.8% contraction in #GDP for fiscal 2020-21, while #ADB is forecasting -9%. OECD sees the #Indian economy shrinking by 10.2%. #COVID19 #Modi #BJP #Hindutva https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-17/india-s-economy-heads-for-double-digit-decline-as-virus-spikes

India’s economic recovery prospects have gone from bad to worse after the nation emerged as a new global hotspot for the coronavirus pandemic with more than 5 million infections.

Economists and global institutions like the Asian Development Bank have recently cut India’s growth projections from already historic lows as the virus continues to spread. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. now estimates a 14.8% contraction in gross domestic product for the year through March 2021, while the ADB is forecasting -9%. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development sees the economy shrinking by 10.2%.

The failure to get infections under control will set back business activity and consumption -- the bedrock of the economy -- which had been slowly picking up after India began easing one of the world’s strictest and biggest lockdowns that started late March. Local virus cases topped the 5 million mark this week, with the death toll surpassed only by the U.S. and Brazil.

“While a second wave of infections is being witnessed globally, India still has not been able to flatten the first wave of infection curve,” said Sunil Kumar Sinha, principal economist at India Ratings and Research Ltd., a unit of Fitch Ratings Ltd. He now sees India’s economy contracting 11.8% in the fiscal year, far worse than his earlier projection of -5.8%.

Goldman Sachs’s latest growth forecast came last week after data showed gross domestic product plunged 23.9% in the April-June quarter from a year ago, the biggest decline since records began in 1996 and the worst performance of major economies tracked by Bloomberg.

India is “likely to see a shallow and delayed recovery in corporate sector profitability over the next several quarters,” said Kaushik Das, chief economist at Deutsche Bank AG in Mumbai, who has downgraded his fiscal year growth forecast to -8% from -6.2%. That will “reduce the incentive and ability for fresh investments, which in turn will be a drag on credit growth and overall real GDP growth,” he said.

Still, foreign investor sentiment will likely return once the pandemic eases, said Todd Buchholz, a former White House economist and now author.

“The virus is seen as a temporary phenomenon,” he said in an interview. “Those investors who were lining up to invest in India in January 2020 will do so in 2021 also, and deregulation has to continue.”
Riaz Haq said…
Fitch has warned of decline in remittances amid the #Coronavirus shock. But #remittances have been robust in #Pakistan and Bangladesh. ADB says 14% of households in #Bangladesh, 8% in #Philippines, 4% in Pakistan and 2% in #India receive remittance income. https://www.fitchratings.com/research/sovereigns/apac-remittances-to-decline-amid-coronavirus-shock-08-09-2020

Fitch Ratings-Hong Kong-08 September 2020: The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent impact on the oil market are having a considerable effect on migrant workers and are likely to supress remittance flows in the APAC region, Fitch Ratings says in a special report. We expect flows to weaken in the coming quarters, even though recent amounts have been surprisingly robust in some countries due to temporary factors. Declining remittances in economies that are dependent on them may affect sovereign ratings through pressures on external finances and economic growth.

Demand for migrant labour has provided an important and stable source of foreign-currency remittance flows for a number of APAC sovereigns, including Bangladesh (6.0% of GDP), Pakistan (7.9%), Sri Lanka (8.0%) and the Philippines (8.4%). India is the largest recipient of remittances globally but they account for a small share of GDP at 2.9%. Remittance flows have helped keep current account deficits contained by offsetting large trade deficits. Indeed, without remittances the Philippines, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh would all have large current account deficits of between 7%-10% of GDP.

Remittances in APAC also provide economic benefits to recipient countries. First, they support domestic consumption by providing an additional income source to households. According to the Asian Development Bank, about 14% of households in Bangladesh receive remittance income, 8% in the Philippines, 4% in Pakistan and 2% in India. Second, job opportunities for migrant workers relieve slack in domestic job markets.

Remittance flows in APAC were surprisingly mixed in the second quarter of 2020. Monthly data show a considerable and broad decline in remittances during April and May, as Fitch expected, but a recovery in June and July. The rebound in flows was particularly robust in Pakistan and Bangladesh, where flows broke records in both June and July. Sri Lanka and the Philippines also saw an improvement in remittance flows in June, but much more modest.

Anecdotal evidence points to temporary factors for the increase in recorded remittances in the recent period. These include migrant workers transferring their savings in preparation to return home, the impact of lockdown restrictions on transferring funds and a shift to formal remittance channels, which are picked up in the official data.
Fitch forecasts a 12% decline across the region in the second half of the year as the temporary support factors fade.

The deterioration in remittance inflows is likely to widen current account deficits, contributing to higher external financing needs. For countries with fragile external finances, such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the shock to remittances could exacerbate existing challenges. Lower oil prices and subdued import demand, however, are likely to soften the aggregate impact on external balances.

Remittances typically provide a countercyclical buffer for economic activity and vulnerable households. In domestic economic shocks, family members working abroad can increase remittances to help mitigate the impact of sluggish domestic activity. The pandemic, however, represents a much more synchronised global economic shock than previous downturns. This limits the potential support of the remittance channel.

Lower remittance flows could affect public finances through two channels: lower revenue collection from weaker consumption and higher social spending to support remittance-dependent households as well as returning migrant workers. Many countries in the region already have limited fiscal space to address the current coronavirus shock and the decline in remittances could exacerbate current challenges.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan central bank holds interest rate at 7% as outlook improves. "Business confidence and the outlook for growth have improved..This reflects the decline of COVID-19 cases in Pakistan and the easing of lockdowns." #COVID19 #economy https://finance.yahoo.com/news/pakistan-central-bank-holds-interest-130637851.html?soc_src=social-sh&soc_trk=tw via @YahooFinance


Pakistan's central bank held its benchmark policy rate at 7% on Monday, saying the economy looked set to pick up due to the lifting of lockdown restrictions aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic though risks remained.

"Business confidence and the outlook for growth have improved," the State Bank of Pakistan said in its monetary policy statement. "This reflects the decline of COVID-19 cases in Pakistan and the easing of lockdowns."

The central bank had slashed rates by 625 basis points in the three months to June, the most pronounced cuts in its history, as the pandemic hit the South-Asian nation.

The bank said that economic growth was expected to pick up to around 2% in the financial year 2021, compared to a contraction of 0.4% in the year ended June.

The decision was largely in line with expectations that the bank would ease off its dovish stance due to the rosier economic outlook while being mindful of the risks to inflation, which had ticked higher in June and July after it cut rates.

"As expected rates remain unchanged, (the) SBP highlighted risks to inflation while economic recovery this year can lead to GDP growth of more than 2%," said Mohammad Sohail, head of Topline Securities.

However, progress was expected to be patchy with construction and manufacturing driving growth in part due to central bank incentive policies, and remittances holding up despite global economic uncertainty.

Hospitality was expected to remain weak and the bank cautioned there heightened risks remained on the horizon due to the pandemic.

"Risks include a potential second wave of COVID-19 domestic infections, a possible sharp increase in infections...in Pakistan's major export markets in Europe and the U.S. and the threat to agriculture from locust attacks," the bank said.
Riaz Haq said…


Migrant workers from Asia’s developing countries have managed to send home record amounts of money in recent months, defying pandemic expectations and propping up home economies at a critical time.

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/nri/forex-and-remittance/remittance-boom-is-turning-into-a-bust-for-emerging-markets-in-asia/articleshow/78251096.cms


Remittance doomsayers see something else in the bigger-than-usual transfers: a coming crash, triggered by a bleak job market, particularly in the Middle East. As they see opportunity drying up along with demand for oil, workers are sending money home in advance of their own return.

Unlike Latin American countries, which continue to benefit from a tentative U.S. recovery, Asian countries are vulnerable to economic austerity in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East. More than 60% of remittances to India, Bangladesh and Pakistan come from Gulf Cooperation Council countries, said Khurram Schehzad, chief executive officer at Karachi-based advisory Alpha Beta Core Solutions Pvt. The region is also the top destination for workers from the Philippines, lone of the world’s largest suppliers of overseas labor.

Saudi Arabia has already raised taxes and import fees to make up for falling oil revenue. Job cuts in the kingdom appear to target foreigners first, with Riyadh-based Jadwa Investment estimating more than a million foreign workers will leave the labor market this year.

After eight years of sending money to family in Karachi, Abdul Hanan Abro is one of the workers who will follow his money home. He was laid off from his acc ..He was laid off from his accounting job in Dubai in May and hasn’t found a new gig -- and he’s not the only one. “No one is getting anything,” said Abro. “Two to three of my friends have already moved back to Lahore. People are selling their cars and stuff, doing their final settlements.”

For Abro, coming home means starting over. He wants to use the savings he accumulated overseas to start a business. “It’s high time to just focus on what I was planning for two to three years now,” Abr ..coming home means starting over. He wants to use the savings he accumulated overseas to start a business. “It’s high time to just focus on what I was planning for two to three years now,” Abro said. “It’s better than wasting more time in finding a job in this market.”

In April, the World Bank predicted overseas workers would send home 20% less this year, the biggest drop since at least 1980. The lender hasn’t updated its forecast to reflect the recent resilience, but a decline is still ..

“People are returning home,” said Thomas Isaac, the finance minister for Kerala, which accounts for the country’s largest share of remittances. “Therefore, they bring back all their savings.” India is the world’s top recipient of transfers and a leading supplier of labor to the gulf; it took in $83 billion last year, exceeding the $51 billion it took in as foreign direct investment.

Overall, remittances to the Asia-Pacific region will drop 12% in the second half of 2020 compared with th ..

Kerala’s proud record for near-total literacy gave its citizens a leg-up over other Indians — not to mention Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and others — seeking jobs in the Gulf. Despite their better education, the overwhelming majority of Keralites did jobs that indeed required being “roasted in the desert sun,” as Dad put it. In the classic migration pattern, young men endured great physical hardship and forewent luxuries to save up, remit money home and bring over friends and relatives. The steady ..
Riaz Haq said…
#COVID19 Lessons for #Pakistan #Climate Advisor: For every $ invested in nature, you get 9 dollars back.
Imbalances between humans & natural world have led to zoonotic #pandemics. Pakistan's billion tree project has helped the economy and the community.
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/09/two-things-nature-taught-us-during-covid-pakistan-climate-advisor/

Pakistan's climate minister and advisor Malik Amin Aslam says nature has taught us two key things during the coronavirus pandemic.

Firstly, if you treat it badly, it will strike back. And secondly, if you treat it well, there are many benefits.

The minister for climate change, who also advises Pakistan's prime minister, was speaking on the first day of the World Economic Forum's Sustainable Development Impact Summit.

"When you start investing in nature, nature always pays you back," he said, referring to Pakistan's billion tree planting project, which has reaped dividends by creating jobs, engaging the community and helping develop a new economy.


He said his country's experience proved that for every dollar you invest in nature, you get nine dollars back.

"We don't have to come out of this pandemic on the same pathway that got us in there. You've seen the different world during this pandemic when humans have retreated. What has happened? You've seen the blue skies, the clean air that we've all built," he said, describing this as a positive opportunity.

Hanging in the balance

On the other hand, treating nature badly could lead to more difficulties down the line, the minister warned.

"The stark warning that nature has given to all of the world is that there are boundaries and nature works within certain limits and certain balances. And if we tried to tilt that balance, nature will strike back," he said.

The minister pointed to the fact that we are living in the middle of a zoonotic pandemic because humans have invaded the territory of animals as evidence of nature striking back.

Zoonotic diseases are those that jump from animals to humans. Rats, bats, monkeys and apes are among those more likely to spread zoonotic germs. Other illnesses and diseases that have been spread this way include Ebola, HIV, SARS and MERS, and Zika.

The UNEP has warned that human activity including urbanization and industrialized agriculture has laid the foundations for pandemics by causing biodiversity loss and environmental damage.

The coronavirus is now present in more than 200 countries, with more than 31 million global cases and almost one million global death, according to figures compiled by the Johns Hopkins University.



Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan current account balance reached a surplus of $805 mn during Jul-Aug FY21 compared to a deficit of $1.2 billion in the same period last year. Higher #remittances, flexible exchange rate and relatively benign #import prices explain the improving current account balance.

https://twitter.com/StateBank_Pak/status/1308635186922430464?s=20

https://twitter.com/StateBank_Pak/status/1308635188822507520?s=20
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan ramps up #COVID19 drug #remdesivir production under Gilead deal. #Lahore-based Ferozsons has 100,000 doses in stock as demand has declined in Pakistan. It's exporting the drug to the #Caribbean, #Kenya and the #Philippines.
https://www.ft.com/content/d1d69573-c3f8-4e6b-b147-2f29e9721c0d via @financialtimes


India and Pakistan have ramped up production of the coronavirus drug remdesivir under a licensing agreement with Gilead Sciences, but onward distribution to other developing countries has been slow.

Vamsi Krishna Bandi, managing director at pharma company Hetero, said there was no longer a remdesivir shortage in India — the country with the second-highest number of coronavirus infections in the world — and that the business had delivered about 800,000 doses of the drug domestically since starting production in June.

But while doctors in India are prescribing the experimental Covid-19 treatment, the majority of the 127 countries in the Gilead licensing deal have yet to start buying it.

Few countries “have actually put in a system for procurement”, said Mr Bandi, adding that few African countries in particular were placing orders. Hetero has exported to 25 countries, while Cipla, another Indian manufacturer, said it had only shipped to South Africa and Nepal.

Developed as a potential treatment to the haemorrhagic fever Ebola, Gilead’s remdesivir inhibits the development of viruses in the body and was found to shorten recovery time from Covid-19. It received emergency use authorisation in the US in May after a large randomised control trial of more than a thousand patients showed that it cut the time to recovery to 11 days, from 15 days in the placebo group.


More recent trials in July, showed the drug may also reduce the risk of death, suggesting the antiviral treatment could do more than just speed up recovery.

Since May, Gilead has signed licensing agreements with nine generic pharmaceutical companies in India, Pakistan and Egypt to supply remdesivir to 127 developing countries, following a model pioneered during the Aids/HIV epidemic.



“Currently, our licensees have made remdesivir available to patients in need in more than 40 countries, and we expect this number will continue to grow over the coming months,” Gilead said, adding “we are pleased by the rapid progress made by this effort”.


Osman Waheed, chief executive of Ferozsons Laboratories Limited, one of Pakistan’s largest pharma companies, said that he had a stockpile of more than 100,000 remdesivir doses after waiting weeks for healthcare authorities in Islamabad to approve exports.

Ferozsons is now shipping the drug to the Caribbean, Kenya and the Philippines, though is still sitting on large stocks after the Covid-19 cases in Pakistan declined.

“We have 100,000 doses today, we have nowhere near that level of demand in Pakistan,” said Mr Waheed. “The [coronavirus] burden on the healthcare system has almost dropped off a cliff.”

Riaz Haq said…
Here's a hit job on Pakistan...seems that Economist never heared of #COVID19 “positivity rate” that is guiding #California and most of the world in decision making. #Pakistan positivity rate has been below 2% since August, thanks to #ImranKhan’s policies https://www.economist.com/asia/2020/09/30/is-pakistan-really-handling-the-pandemic-better-than-india?fbclid=IwAR0yF2OU9Hv2eQv7blorstFHhwGV9-OpUhlcS0eYv8dQR1sYznPGUYS8c6I


According to this Economist piece, "Imran Khan crowed" about Pakistan's success against COVID19 pandemic. It quotes an Indian professor at Princeton saying "Test not, find not" and Pakistan's "relative backwardness" as the reasons for Pakistan's lower cases. Conspicuously absent from Economist's narrative is the fact that the percentage of tests (25,000-30,000 a day) that are positive has been below 2% since August, 2020.

Excerpt: " “We have not only managed to control the virus, stabilise our economy, but most importantly, we have been able to protect the poorest segment of our society from the worst fallouts of the lockdown,” crowed Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, in a recent video address to the un General Assembly."

Excerpt: "There are less heroic reasons for Pakistan’s lower covid toll, too. Some, ironically, stem from its relative backwardness. “Basically, it is undertesting on a massive scale,” contends Ramanan Laxminarayan of Princeton University. He notes that Pakistan tests for covid at less than a quarter of India’s rate, per person, adding that the relatively poor Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, with a population equal to Pakistan’s and a similar failure to test widely, has also registered similar numbers of cases and fatalities (see chart). “Test not, find not,” says Mr Laxminarayan. “It’s the same with authoritarian regimes the world over.”

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Demography is another factor. Both Pakistan and India have a far smaller proportion of old people than rich countries do. Just 4% of Pakistanis are over 65, for example, compared with 23% of Italians. Yet the median age in Pakistan, 23, is four years lower than India’s, and its average life expectancy, 67, is two years shorter. This puts a far smaller proportion of Pakistanis in the age bracket most vulnerable to covid.

Although both countries remain largely rural, Indians are much more mobile, both domestically and internationally. Some 160m Indians travel by air annually compared with fewer than 10m Pakistanis; passenger traffic on Indian railways is 130 times greater. Mr Modi’s lockdown, ironically, first bottled tens of millions of migrant workers inside cities that were often reservoirs of covid and then, as pressure mounted to let them return to their villages, distributed the epidemic more widely. Pakistanis, by and large, have instead stayed put at home, which more often means a family home in a village, and less often the kind of crowded workers’ colonies that ring Indian cities. The laxness of Pakistan’s lockdown meant that most small businesses stayed open, whereas nearly all in India were forced to close.

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Despite the starkly different trajectories covid has taken so far in India and Pakistan, experts warn against drawing firm conclusions. “Our lockdown may have hurt India more than the disease itself, but in other respects we are much like Pakistan,” says Jayaprakash Muliyil, an adviser to India’s National Institute of Epidemiology. None of the numbers coming from either country is likely to present a true picture, he suggests: “We both really cannot see what is happening in villages, where most people live, and we share the same disdain for proper data.”
Riaz Haq said…
#Coronavirus Study: #Kids And Superspreaders Are Driving COVID-19 Cases In #India. This will have major implications for #children returning to classrooms, to sports and to other activities where kids tend to be in close contact to each other. #COVID19 https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/10/01/919237103/kids-and-superspreaders-are-driving-covid-19-cases-in-india-huge-study-finds?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social

In the largest study ever of transmission patterns for COVID-19, researchers in India tested more than a half-million contacts of 85,000 cases to examine how and to whom the coronavirus is spreading.

The first interesting finding: Children are spreading the virus amongst themselves and also to adults. Second: The greatest risk for infection among the people studied in the two southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh is a long bus or train ride.

The attack rate — or the risk of transmission from a primary case to someone else — was 80% for passengers sitting next to an infected person on a bus or train for more than 6 hours without a mask. By comparison, there was only a 9% chance of an infected person giving the virus to another member of their household. The chances of a person passing on the virus in a hospital or clinic was 1.2% and the attack rate was just 2.6% for interactions in the general community.

In fact most people — 71%, according to this study — appear to have never passed the virus on to anyone. Given that the outbreak continues to grow, this means there are a small minority of patients responsible for the vast majority of spread.

"Some people just transmit more than other people do because they shed virus," says Ramanan Laxminarayan, the director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in New Delhi and one of the lead authors of the study, published this week in the journal Science.

"We've never had a good handle on [superspreaders], and certainly no large-scale study," he says. "Here in this study, we found that 8% of the people who were infected were responsible for 60% of the infections that grew out of these primary cases."

India, unfortunately, has become an ideal place to study the spread of the novel coronavirus. Recently, the country has been reporting nearly 100,000 new cases per day. Testing is widely available and in the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, where this study was carried out, public health workers have been aggressively tracking local infections.

Riaz Haq said…
#India’s #COVID19 Death Toll Passes 100,000. #Modi imposed harsh nationwide #lockdown, a move that many experts say devastated the #economy & failed to slow the #pandemic. At 6.4 million, #India’s caseload is world's 2nd -highest, behind #US's 7.3 million https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/03/world/asia/india-coronavirus-deaths.html?smid=tw-share

“Actual number of deaths is much higher,” said Dr. Anant Bhan, a health researcher at Yenepoya University in southern India. “But how much higher it is, that is difficult to know.”


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More than 100,000 people in India have died from the coronavirus, the government said on Saturday, even as officials plan to lift more restrictions in hopes of reviving the crippled economy.

India’s health ministry reported 1,069 new Covid-19 deaths, bringing the official total to 100,842, though experts say the true toll is probably much higher. Until Saturday, only the United States and Brazil had reported more than 100,000 deaths from the virus.

At 6.4 million, India’s official caseload is the second-highest in the world, surpassed only by the United States, which has more than 7.3 million cases. India’s death and infection rates have climbed in recent months, with September alone accounting for more than 40 percent of its cases and about a third of its deaths.

The numbers have fallen somewhat since mid-September but remain high. Over the past week, India reported almost twice as many new cases as the United States did. And experts suspect that many Covid-19 fatalities in India have gone unreported.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government imposed a harsh nationwide lockdown in March, a move that many experts say was poorly planned, devastating the economy while failing to stop the virus’s spread.

Now, despite the climbing numbers, officials are lifting restrictions in hopes of easing the economic suffering. Cinemas will be allowed to reopen with limited capacity this month, for example, and some states are expected to reopen schools.

Dr. Bhan said the reopenings could imperil older Indians and other vulnerable people who have been staying home. Children who return to school are likely to bring the virus home, he said. “The potential for exposure to infection would go up.”

Thekkekara Jacob John, a former head of clinical virology at Christian Medical College in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, said many lives could have been saved if the March lockdown had been handled properly.

“Now, today, the economic revival has priority over handling the virus,” Mr. John said.
Riaz Haq said…
#LocustInvasion under control in #Pakistan. The infestation had forced emergency declaration as the invading insects ravaged #crops. The low yields pushed up the price of wheat & other foodgrains, raising overall #inflation to almost 10% in Sept 2020 https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/9/pakistan-claims-devastating-locust-swarm-brought-under-control

“The swarm started declining from August and we cleared last few hectares of land in two districts this week,” Ejaz said at a ceremony in the capital Islamabad.

Pakistan deployed drones, helicopters, hundreds of vehicles and thousands of agriculture workers since declaring an emergency in February.

Locust swarms first entered Pakistan in June 2019 from neighbouring Iran and quickly devastated large areas of agricultural land across southwestern districts, ravaging cotton, wheat, maize and other crops.

The damage prompted Pakistan, a country of 220 million people, to miss its production target for wheat by about 2 million tonnes, forcing the government to import the grain for the first time in almost 10 years.

The low yields have pushed up the price of wheat and other foodgrains, pushing overall inflation to almost 10 percent in September piling political pressure on the government.

Despite the government’s claims, officials did not rule out the possibility of another attack by the insects.

“There can be a [resurgence] but based on our experience we will be ready to pre-empt that,” said Mohamed Afzal, head of Pakistan’s disaster management agency.

China, Pakistan’s close ally and neighbour, had donated drones, thousands of tonnes of pesticides and technical expertise to help the country tackle the crisis.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan’s Orange Line #Metro train project under #CPEC completed in #Lahore. A total of 27 sets of trains will be put into use which are expected to provide traveling service for 250,000 passengers daily, at the early stage of the commercial operation. https://www.wefornews.com/pakistans-orange-line-metro-train-project-under-cpec-completed/


The Orange Line Metro Train project in Lahore under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), has been completed and was delivered to the Pakistani side, it was announced.

As an early-harvest project of the CPEC, the Orange Line is Pakistan’s first-ever mass rapid urban transit train service, and the project is built by a joint venture of China State Railway Group Co., Ltd. and China North Industries Corporation, Xinhua news agency reported.

With a total investment of around $1.6 billion, the construction work of the Orange Line project started in September 2015, and the project is expected to be put into commercial operation soon.

Wang Yunlin, executive deputy general manager of the Orange Line project, told the media that despite the Covid-19 pandemic and tight construction schedule, the project was successfully completed and delivered.

Over 2,000 local people were employed at the peak of the project’s construction, he said, adding that the travelling of local people will be greatly improved after the project is put into commercial operation.

According to the joint venture, the length of the Orange Line project is 25.58 km, and the project has 26 stations including 24 elevated stops and two underground stations, connecting several densely-populated areas of Lahore.

A total of 27 sets of trains will be put into use which are expected to provide travelling service for 250,000 passengers daily, at the early stage of the commercial operation.


Riaz Haq said…
Workers' #remittances to #Pakistan above $2 billion for 4th consecutive month in September, increasing to $2.3 billion, 31.2% up from last year, and 9% higher than in August. Remittances rose to a record $ 7.1 billion in Q1-FY21, 31.1% up over last year.


https://www.marketscreener.com/news/latest/State-Bank-of-Pakistan-Trend-of-Strong-Workers-Remittances-Continues-in-September-12-10-2020--31521606/


ERD/M&PRD/PR/01/2020-106

October 12, 2020

Trend of Strong Workers' Remittances Continues in September

Workers' remittances remained above $2 billion for the fourth consecutive month in September. They increased to $2.3 billion, 31.2 percent higher than the same month last year and 9 percent higher than in August.
On a cumulative basis, remittances rose to a record $ 7.1 billion in Q1-FY21, 31.1 higher than the same period last year.
The level of remittances in September was slightly higher than SBP's projections of $ 2 billion. Efforts under the Pakistan Remittances Initiative (PRI) and the gradual re-opening of major host destinations such as Middle East, Europe and United States contributed to the sustained increase in workers' remittances.
Riaz Haq said…
#Auto sales in #Pakistan up 20% month-to-month and 10% year-over-year. Post-#COVID19 #economic recovery well underway.

Honda up 67% year-over-year

Toyota up 102% year-over-year

Suzuki down 23% year-over-year

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1315815850486583298?s=20

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