Economist Normalcy Index: Pakistan Among Best Performing Countries For Handling COVID19

With a score of 84.4, Pakistan ranks third among 50 countries tracked by the Economist magazine for return to pre-pandemic life. Pakistan's neighbor India has a score of 46.5, ranking it near the bottom in 48th position.  China (score 72.9) is 19th, United States (72.8) 20th, United Arab Emirates (68.9) 27th and United Kingdom (62.5) 36th. The global average for return to pre-pandemic activity is 66.6 on a scale of 0 to 100. 

Top Performing Countries For Return to Pre-Pandemic Activity Level. Source: Economist

Economist's Global Normalcy Index:

The Economist magazine is tracking 50 countries for return to pre-pandemic activity level. Here is how it  explains it:

"The global normalcy index plummeted in March 2020 as many countries imposed draconian restrictions on their citizens. It fell to just 35 in April 2020, before improving gradually over the following months. Today it stands at 66, suggesting that the world has travelled roughly half of the way back to pre-pandemic life. Some indicators, such as traffic congestion and time spent outside, have recovered faster than others, particularly sports attendance and flights. The global average masks a lot of variation across countries. Click on the drop-down box to explore how behavior has changed in each one". 

Best Performing Countries:

The top 10 best performing countries or territories on the Economist Normalcy Index are Hong Kong (96.3/100), New Zealand (87.8), Pakistan (84,4), Nigeria (84.1), Ukraine (83.6), Romania (82.1), Denmark (81.3), Egypt (81.2), Israel (80.4) and Mexico (80.2). The global average for return to pre-pandemic activity is 66.6 on a scale of 0 to 100. 

 Worst Performing Countries For Return to Pre-Pandemic Activity Level. Source: Economist

Worst Performing Countries:

The worst performing countries from the bottom are Malaysia (score 27.3/100) at number 50, Taiwan (43.7) at 49, India (46.5) at 48, Chile (51.1) at 47, Vietnam (51.3) at 46, Argentina (52.9) at 45, Philippines (55.5) at 44, Singapore (55.5) at 43, Peru (56.1) at 42, Thailand (57.8) at 41 and Indonesia (58.3) at 40. 

COVID Test Positivity Rate in Pakistan. Source: Our World in Data 

COVID Positivity Rate:

Timely actions by Pakistan National Command Operations Center (NCOC) have helped control the third COVID19 wave in the country. With nearly 50,000 daily tests, the positivity rate has dropped to around 2% in the most recent week.  This has been accomplished in spite of the fact that the vaccination rate in Pakistan is still quite low. 

Normalcy Index vs Vaccination Rates. Source: Economist


The Economist magazine normalcy index has ranked Pakistan among the top 5 countries for return to pre-pandemic activity level.The latest COVID positivity rate is just over 2% in spite of the fact that the vaccination rates are still very low. With a score of 84.4, Pakistan ranks third among 50 countries tracked by the Economist magazine for return to pre-pandemic life. Pakistan's neighbor India has a score of 46.5, ranking it near the bottom in 48th position.  China (score 72.9) is 19th, United States (72.8) 20th, United Arab Emirates (68.9) 27th and United Kingdom (62.5) 36th The global average for return to pre-pandemic activity is 66.6 on a scale of 0 to 100.

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Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel


Riaz Haq said…
#Fake #vaccines administered in #India. #Medical scams are nothing new in India, where, during the country’s mammoth outbreak this spring, profiteers targeted vulnerable #COVID19 patients with fake drugs and oxygen. #Modi #BJP #fraud #pandemic

As India intensifies its vaccination effort amid fears of another wave of the coronavirus, officials are investigating allegations that perhaps thousands of people were injected with fake vaccines in the financial capital, Mumbai.

The police have arrested 14 people on suspicion of involvement in a scheme that administered injections of salt water instead of vaccine doses at nearly a dozen private vaccination sites in Mumbai over the past two months. The organizers, including medical professionals, allegedly charged between $10 and $17 per dose, according to the authorities, who said they had confiscated more than $20,000 from the suspects.

“Those arrested are charged under criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery,” said Vishal Thakur, a police officer in Mumbai.

More than 2,600 people came to the camps to receive shots of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured and marketed in India as Covishield. Some said that they became suspicious when their shots did not show up in the Indian government’s online portal tracking vaccinations, and when the hospitals that the organizers had claimed to be affiliated with did not match the names on the vaccination certificates they received.

“There are doubts about whether we were actually given Covishield or was it just glucose or expired/waste vaccines,” Neha Alshi, who said she was a victim of the scam, wrote on Twitter.

Siddharth Chandrashekhar, a lawyer who has filed a public interest lawsuit in Mumbai’s high court, described the scenario as “heartbreaking.” The court said it was “really shocking that incidents of fake vaccination are on the rise.”

Medical scams are nothing new in India, where, during the country’s mammoth outbreak this spring, profiteers targeted vulnerable Covid patients with fake drugs and oxygen. The police in West Bengal state are also investigating whether hundreds of people, including a local lawmaker, received fake vaccines there.

India has administered more than 340 million vaccine doses, but less than 5 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. The country is reporting nearly 50,000 new cases daily and nearly 1,000 Covid deaths, numbers that are far lower than two months ago, although experts have always believed India’s official tallies to be vastly undercounted.

On Saturday, the pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech reported that its Covaxin shot — the other vaccine in wide use in India — was 77.8 percent effective in preventing symptomatic illness, according to the results of a late-stage trial. Those results were published online but have not been peer-reviewed.

Riaz Haq said…
#ImranKhan opens several #CPEC projects in #Balochistan:
Gwadar Fertiliser Plant
Gwadar Animal Vaccine Plant
Henan Agricultural Industrial Park
Hengmei Lubricants Plant
Gwadar Free Zone Phase Two
Gwadar Expo Centre
#Pakistan #China #development #Gwadar

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday performed the groundbreaking of phase two of the Gwadar Free Zone (GFZ) and launched a number of other development and infrastructure projects including an expo centre, agriculture industrial park and three factories.

During a single-day visit to Gwadar, the premier also inaugurated phase one of the GFZ, reviewed the progress on various development projects, and witnessed the signing of a number of memorandums of understanding (MoUs).

He was given a detailed briefing on the progress of the south Balochistan development package in line with the government’s efforts of focusing on the province.

MoUs signed:

Implementation agreement of 1.2 million gallons per day desalination plant
Solar generators grant from China for south Balochistan
On the occasion, agreements were signed on solarisation and a desalination plant to solve the problems of Gwadar related to water and electricity.

In his address at the launching ceremony for the projects, the prime minister lamented that many areas in Pakistan including Balochistan had been left behind in development. He said development plans for Gwadar had been made for some time but the lack of any real implementation was due to common issues such as supply of water, electricity and gas, and connectivity with other areas.
Riaz Haq said…
What went so wrong with #covid in #India? Everything. Catastrophe that has struck millions of Indians is direct result of #Modi govt’s failures: its failure to plan ahead by increasing hospital capacity, acquiring medicines and purchase vaccines. #pandemic

And all along, there has been Modi. The prime minister had been the face of India’s fight against the pandemic—literally: his headshot appears prominently on the certificate given to people who get their vaccine. But after the second wave, his premature triumphalism was mocked and his lack of preparedness derided widely. Since then, he has gone largely missing from the public eye, leaving it to colleagues to place the blame elsewhere, most notably—and inaccurately—on the government’s political opposition. As a result, Indians have been left to face the biggest national crisis of their lifetime on their own.

This abandonment has created a sense of camaraderie among some groups of Indians, with many using social media and WhatsApp to help each other out by sharing information about hospital beds and oxygen cylinders. They have also organized on the ground, distributing meals to those in need.

“The [BJP] rallies were a direct message from the leadership that the virus was gone.”

Ramanan Laxminarayan, the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy
But the leadership vacuum has also produced a huge market for profiteers and scammers at the highest levels. In May, opposition politicians accused a leader of the ruling BJP party, Tejaswi Surya, of taking part in a vaccine commission scam. And the health minister of Goa, Vishwajit Rane, was forced to deny claims that he played a part in a scam involving the purchase of ventilators. Even the prime minister’s signature covid relief fund, PM Cares, came under fire after it spent Rs 2,250 crore (over $300 million) on 60,000 ventilators that doctors later complained were faulty and “too risky to use.” The fund, which attracted at least $423 million in donations, has also raised concerns about corruption and lack of transparency.

A successful vaccination agenda might have helped erase the memory of the string of missteps, but under Modi it has only been one technocratic mistake after another. At the end of May, with far fewer vaccines in hand than it needs, the government announced plans to start mixing doses of different vaccine types. And at the height of the second wave, it introduced Co-WIN, an online booking system that was mandatory for anyone under 45 who was trying to get vaccinated. The system, which had been under scrutiny for months, was disastrous: not only did it automatically exclude those who do not use computers and smartphones, but it was also hit by bugs and overwhelmed by people desperate to get protection.

And then there’s cost. While the government covered the cost of vaccination for health-care staff, frontline workers, and those over 45, it expected people between the ages of 18 and 44 to pay for their own shots. India was the only major country to pass on this cost to the public. Most paid around Rs 900 ($12) for one shot, but some reported being charged as much as Rs 1800 ($25), an astronomical sum in a country where 134 million people live on less than $2 a day. In yet another unprecedented move, the government told individual states that it was up to them to purchase vaccines for the under-45s. “This was another googly,” says Laxminarayan, who called the government’s decision “bizarre.” India was one of only two countries in the world to adopt this model—the other being Brazil, which has also registered hundreds of thousands of deaths.

The vaccination plans were so unrealistic and unfair that the Supreme Court weighed in on May 31, telling the government to “see what’s happening across the country.”

Riaz Haq said…
Oxygen shortages hit #Bangladesh as hospitals unable to cope with #COVID19 surge. Empty #oxygen cylinders are piling up almost as fast as bodies in the city of Khulna, which has become Bangladesh's #coronavirus hotspot in a dire new surge. via @FRANCE24

The government has ordered a strict week-long nationwide lockdown in a bid to halt the spread of Covid-19, but Khulna's hospitals cannot cope.

Neither can relatives of the dead.

Mohammad Siddik leaned against empty cylinders under a hospital emergency porch, tearfully telling relatives in phone calls that his 50-year-old brother had died.

The 42-year-old businessman brought his brother to hospital as his condition deteriorated. But there was no bed and no oxygen, he told AFP.

"He passed away gasping for air in the hospital corridor," said Siddik.

"They didn't give him any oxygen until the end."

The southwestern district bordering India's West Bengal state has seen a sharp rise in coronavirus infections blamed on the more contagious Delta variant, which was first detected in India.

On Thursday, Khulna city recorded 46 virus deaths, according to an official count, while in earlier waves the daily death toll never went into double figures.

Most people in the city of 680,000 people say the real toll is much higher and, according to reports, graveyards cannot cope with the number of dead in nearby cities such as Satkhira.

The main state-run Khulna general hospital is one of four in the city treating coronavirus patients and has 400 beds but demand far outstrips supply.

"We have been dealing with enormous admission pressure in hospitals," said Niaz Muhammad, chief government doctor for the Khulna region.

He denied there was an oxygen shortage.

'The situation is dire'

But another grieving relative also told how her brother had died without oxygen.

Afroza, who gave only one name, shed tears in a hospital ward.

"If only they could have given a little oxygen to my brother, he would still be alive," she said.

Police and troops have patrolled the streets across Bangladesh, home to 168 million people, since Thursday to enforce the lockdown. Hundreds of people have been arrested each day for leaving their homes.

In Khulna, restrictions on movement have been in place since last month, as the infection rate has soared.

But the city's factories are still open and many people say they are forced to go out to work.

Student Rafikul Islam said he walked seven kilometres (four miles) to his part-time factory job as there were no buses.

"Most shops and transport are shut down. But given Khulna's serious situation, we must maintain this. There is no other way. The situation is dire," he said.

Officially, Bangladesh has recorded just over 935,000 cases and 14,900 deaths in the past 15 months, but most people say the figures are drastically under-reported.

Mohammad Babu, who works in a Khulna cemetery, said he has never been so busy in his 32 years digging graves.

"The number of burials this year is much higher than at any time in the past," he said.

Health officials blame the surge on people's refusal to wear masks or keep social distance.

"People cannot be bothered to isolate and this spreads the infection even more," said Suhas Halder, spokesperson for Khulna's main coronavirus hospital.

Riaz Haq said…
#NCOC confirms presence of #COVID19 variants in #Pakistan, including the delta (#Indian), beta (#SouthAfrican) and alpha (#UK) variants.“ Last week's show small but definitive uptick in cases, percentage positivity and other parameters. Masks are a must.

According to a study conducted by World Health Organi­sation (WHO) in 28 countries, drugs that block the effects of interleukin-6 reduce the risk of death by Covid-19 and the need for mechanical ventilation.

According to the NCOC, the National Institute of Health (NIH) has been monitoring the presence of different variants of coronavirus in Pakistan. This is done via whole-genome sequen­cing of Covid-19 patients’ samples.

2m more doses of vaccine arrive from China

“Samples collected in late May and the first half of June 2021 have shown the presence of different variants of concern, including the delta, beta and alpha variants. Of note, the data has been shared with the Field Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Division of NIH for response activities such as quarantine and contact tracing, and with other relevant national stakeholders,” it said.

The NCOC data showed that 25 deaths and 830 new cases were reported in a single day. The number of active cases was 33,390 and 2,223 patients were admitted to hospitals as of July 6.

The number of cases, which remained over 1,000 for five consecutive days, dropped to three digits i.e. 830. However, according to an official of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) sudden increase or decrease in the number of cases can be reported in a single day and that is why weekly data is considered credible.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Dr Faisal Sultan has warned that indications are showing that the situation has started worsening.

“Covid data from last week show small but definitive uptick in cases, percentage positivity and other parameters. Masks, avoidance of large crowds and continued vaccination remain crucial tools in this work,” he tweeted.

Interleukin-6 antagonists improve outcomes in hospitalised Covid-19 patients.

Findings from a study published on Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association have prompted new WHO recommendations to use interleukin-6 antagonists in patients with severe or critical Covid-19 along with corticosteroids.

According to a statement of the WHO, new analysis of 27 randomised trials involving about 11,000 patients found that treating hospitalised Covid-19 patients with drugs that block the effects of interleukin-6 (the interleukin-6 antagonists tocilizumab and sarilumab) reduces the risk of death by Covid-19 and the need for mechanical ventilation.

The study, which was coordinated in 28 countries by the WHO in partnership with King’s College London, University of Bristol, University College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, found that interleukin-6 antagonists were most effective when administered with corticosteroids. In hospitalised patients, administering one of these drugs in addition to corticosteroids reduces the risk of death by 17 per cent, compared to the use of corticosteroids alone. In patients not on mechanical ventilation, the need for mechanical ventilation and risk of death is reduced by 21pc, compared to the use of corticosteroids alone.

This analysis included information on 10,930 patients, of whom 6,449 were randomly assigned to receive interleukin-6 antagonists and 4,481 to receive usual care or placebo.

Results showed that the risk of dying within 28 days is lower in patients receiving interleukin-6 antagonists. In this group, the risk of death is 22pc compared with an assumed risk of 25pc in those receiving only usual care.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan ramps up #COVID19 #VaccinationDrive. 8.25% of the population has received at least one dose as of July 7, 2021. #coronavirus #DeltaVariant #VACCINE
Riaz Haq said…
#India’s #Economic Recovery Stumbles with decline in both #manufacturing and #services sectors, which contribute more than two-thirds of India’s #GDP (gross domestic product). #COVID19 #BJP #Modi #economy #pandemic

India’s economy showed signs of cooling in June as the slow easing of localized lockdowns hurt activity, a factor likely to encourage monetary policy makers meeting next week to consider keeping interest rates at record lows to foster a durable recovery.

Contractions in both manufacturing and services sectors, which contribute more than two-thirds of India’s gross domestic product, pulled the needle on an overall activity indicator to 5 from 6, a level not seen since February and the first downward shift since May 2020 data. The gauge uses a three-month weighted average to smooth out volatility, and a move left signifies loss of momentum.

Riaz Haq said…
#COVID #Vaccination Status in #Pakistan: 42.2 million doses administered. 12 million (5.5%) fully vaccinated
Riaz Haq said…
Watch #Modi squirm and walk out of an interview with #Indian journalist Karan Thapar. He was extremely defensive and failed to answer any questions on the massacre of #Muslims in #Gujarat when he was Chief Minister
Riaz Haq said…
As #India’s Lethal #Covid Wave Neared, Politics Overrode Science. Senior officials forced scientists at elite institutions to downplay the threat to prioritize #Modi’s political goals. #Hindutva #BJP #economy #pandemic

The forecast was mathematically based, government-approved and deeply, tragically wrong.

In September 2020, eight months before a deadly Covid-19 second wave struck India, government-appointed scientists downplayed the possibility of a new outbreak. Previous infections and early lockdown efforts had tamed the spread, the scientists wrote in a study that was widely covered by the Indian news media after it was released last year.

The results dovetailed neatly with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two main goals: restart India’s stricken economy and kick off campaigning for his party in state elections that coming spring. But Anup Agarwal, a physician then working for India’s top science agency, which reviewed and published the study, worried that its conclusions would lull the country into a false sense of security.

Dr. Agarwal took his concerns to the agency’s top official in October. The response: He and another concerned scientist were reprimanded, he said.

In the wake of the devastating second wave, which killed hundreds of thousands of people, many in India are asking how Mr. Modi’s government missed the warning signs. Part of the answer, according to current and former government researchers and documents reviewed by The New York Times, is that senior officials forced scientists at elite institutions to downplay the threat to prioritize Mr. Modi’s political goals.

“Science is being used as a political weapon to forward the government narrative rather than help people,” said Dr. Agarwal, 32.

Senior officials at Dr. Agarwal’s agency — called the Indian Council of Medical Research, or I.C.M.R. — suppressed data showing the risks, according to the researchers and documents. They pressured scientists to withdraw another study that called the government’s efforts into question, the researchers said, and distanced the agency from a third study that foresaw a second wave.

Agency scientists interviewed by The Times described a culture of silence. Midlevel researchers worried that they would be passed over for promotions and other opportunities if they questioned superiors, they said.

“Science thrives in an environment where you can openly question evidence and discuss it dispassionately and objectively,” said Shahid Jameel, one of India’s top virologists and a former government adviser, who has been critical of the agency.

“That, sadly, at so many levels, has been missing,” he said.

The science agency declined to answer detailed questions. In a statement, it said it was a “premier research organization” that had helped to expand India’s testing capacity. India’s health ministry, which oversees the agency, did not respond to requests for comment.

India is hardly the first country where virus science has become politicized. The United States remains far short of taming the disease as politicians and anti-vaccine activists, fueled by disinformation and credulous media, challenge the scientific consensus on vaccines and wearing masks. The Chinese government has tried to obscure the outbreak’s origin, while vaccine skeptics have won audiences from Russia to Spain to Tanzania.
Riaz Haq said…
Nikkei #COVID Recovery Index: #Pakistan ranks 33 among 120 countries. #China ranks 9, #India 40, #Bangladesh 26, #SriLanka 61, #UK 69, #US 70, #Philippines 121

The Nikkei COVID-19 Recovery Index ranks more than 120 countries and regions on infection management, vaccine rollouts and social mobility at the end of each month. A higher ranking indicates that a country or region is closer to recovery with its low numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases, better vaccination rates and less-stringent social distancing measures.

The index calculates a score between 0 and 90 for each country or region. The score is the sum of three constituent categories and nine subcategories as shown below:

Infection management:

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 versus peak case count;

Confirmed cases per capita;

Tests per case.

Vaccine rollouts:

Total vaccine doses given per capita;

New vaccine doses given per capita;

Share of people who have been fully vaccinated.


Community mobility;

Oxford stringency index;

Flight activities.

Data sources of the index include Our World in Data; Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports; Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker by Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford; and Cirium, an aviation data and analytics company.

Each subcategory has a maximum score of 10. Countries and regions are compared with one another for most of these subcategories. For example, in the "share of people who have been fully vaccinated" subcategory, if a country's or region's percentage is higher than 90% of all the countries, it gets a 10; if the percentage is higher than 80% of all the countries, it gets a 9; and so on.

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