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May 7, 2021

‘Very risky days ahead’, Initial signs of some stability in third wave: Dr Faisal

KARACHI: Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan has said there are ‘initial signs of some stability’ in the third wave of Covid-19 in Pakistan.

It is also a ‘very risky period’ as Ramazan is about to end and Eid-ul-Fitr approaching, he added, urging people to continue following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to remain safe. “We are today in the midst of the third wave of Covid-19 pandemic and while there may be very initial signs of some stability (in the third wave), these are very early days and this is a very risky period for us as the holy month of Ramazan is going to end and Eid is approaching. As professionals and opinion makers, I would urge microbiologists and scientists to tell people that they should continue to comply with SOPs,” he told a webinar on “SOPs and vaccination: Solution for the Covid-19 Pandemic”. The webinar was part of a series of online lectures organised by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Ambassador to Pakistan Prof Dr Saeed Khan and it was attended by microbiologists, molecular biologists, medical professionals and students from entire Pakistan as well as abroad.

Confirming that according to the latest data, Covid-19 curve is flattening in Punjab as well as in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dr Faisal Sultan maintained that in Sindh, the Covid-19 cases were on the rise due to low compliance of SOPs and warned that it is not the time for complacency as the number of critical patients were still above 5,200 in the country who were on high flow oxygen.

“Covid-19 cases may rise again if precautions are not taken during this critical period when we are seeing the last days of holy month of Ramazan and Eid is a festive season,” he said and urged the microbiologists and scientists to guide the people and highlight the importance of wearing masks, social distancing and the importance of getting vaccinated.

Commenting on the role of microbiologists, the special assistant to PM on health said Pakistani professionals are highly capable and talented, who should come up with local innovations and their own research to deal with the pandemic.

“It is also your job to counter the misinformation that is being spread in the society and present the scientific information to the people,” Dr Faisal Sultan said, adding that medical professionals like microbiologists, ID specialists and pulmonologists had the responsibility to guide the people and remain connected with the data and developing science. He said the National Institute of Health (NIH) is in the process of revamping and reorganisation through an ordinance, which would become a law soon and added that the new NIH would be governed by experts, including microbiologists, molecular biologists and other experts. “I would like you all to keep an eye on it and younger scientists to be part of the organization,” he added. Responding to a query, he said at the moment, younger people who are less than 18 years of age are not required to get vaccinated, adding that Pakistan has started vaccinating most vulnerable segment of the society. “Our first and foremost priority was to protect those who were at the greatest risk of dying. The second and concurrent objective was to protect individuals and to have enough immune people to allow reduced transmission of the disease,” he added.

“I can foresee that in the coming days and months, younger people might be getting vaccinated, in fact let me predict that by the end of the current year, I think the whole world may have moved towards vaccinating the adolescents,” he said but added that it would be based on the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

To another query, he said there is a great misconception that ‘millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines’ are available, especially for the private import and added that even COVAX was unable to find vaccines for low-income countries and the Government of Pakistan is in direct contact with Chinese vaccine manufacturers to meet Pakistan’s demands.

ASM Ambassador to Pakistan Prof Dr Saeed Khan in his presentation highlighted the importance of social distancing, mandatory wearing of masks and vaccination for the prevention of Covid-19.

“There is science behind when we ask for wearing masks in the public place. Eid is approaching and we would recommend people to wear masks in the public place, observe social distancing, and get vaccinated as it is now open for people of 40 years of age and above to get vaccinated,” Prof Saeed Khan added.