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April 3, 2020

‘Perhaps God wants to save us from severity of corona’

Top Story

April 3, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Authorities here are optimistic that Pakistan may not face the coronavirus attack as serious as it has hit China, the UK, the US, Iran and some of the European countries.

Health ministry sources said that the reports pouring in from different parts of the country are really encouraging, as the virus is appearing not as dangerous for local population as it has affected people living in several other parts of the world.

NIH Chief Major General Dr Aamer Ikram when contacted said that because of genetic, social, medical and other reasons, Pakistan remains saved from the severity of the coronavirus attack. He said that the number of coronavirus cases may be high but no one can hide the deaths and in our case the deaths from the virus so far are not alarming. Maj Gen Aamer Ikram expressed his confidence that the coronavirus related death rate with remain very low in Pakistan.

Another official source admitted that testing facilities in the country are inadequate and thus the total number of corona positive patients might be far more than the confirmed cases of a little over 2,200. However, still the number of deaths and the number of critical patients are quite low here, which is an encouraging news and a major deviation from what China, Italy, Iran, Spain, the US, the UK and some other hardly corona-affected countries have experienced.

Not only that 90 per cent corona patients, who have tested positive, don’t show any symptoms but out of the remaining 10% who show symptoms the number of critical patients is very low. The critical patients needing ventilator today are less than even two dozen.

“As the signs are, perhaps God wants to save us from the severity of this virus,” an official source said, adding that the first half of April will make the picture clear.

There is no concrete reason cited for the reduced affect of coronavirus in Pakistan but generally better immunity level and weather conditions are discussed. Former chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Prof Dr Atta-ur-Rehman recently said that new research suggests that the strain of coronavirus spreading in Pakistan is different than the one that originated in China.

He said that the Chinese strain of the coronavirus has different chromosomes than the Pakistani variant. "The Chinese strain has more potent chromosomes than the Pakistani strain of the coronavirus," he said a few days back.

According to some US scientists the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine, administered to millions of people in the region including Pakistan, India etc soon after birth to protect against tuberculosis, could be a "game-changer" in the fight against the deadly coronavirus.

The severity of coronavirus impact may be linked to national policies on BCG childhood vaccination, the yet to be published study from the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) states while citing the examples of Italy and the US.

"We found that countries without universal policies of BCG vaccination, such as Italy, the Netherlands, and the United States, have been more severely affected compared to countries with universal and long-standing BCG policies," noted the researchers led by Gonzalo Otazu, assistant professor of biomedical sciences at NYIT.

According to the study, a combination of reduced morbidity and mortality could make the BCG vaccination a game-changer in the fight against coronavirus.