COVID Watch | 18th August 2020



DRAP greenlights vaccine trials

The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) authorized the Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination to conduct Phase 3 trials of Recombinant Novel Coronavirus Vaccine Adenovirus Type 5 vector (Ad5-nCoV), a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by CanSino Biologics and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology in China. The clinical trials will also be conducted in China, Argentina, Russia, and Chile as part of a multi-state study.

In Pakistan, the trials will be initiated by the Agha Khan Medical University in Karachi, the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and the University of Health Sciences in Lahore, and the Shifa International Hospital in Islamabad. Around 200 volunteers in Karachi alone from various ethnic groups have signed up for the trial, which will be carried out over the course of 56 days.

Muharram SOPs finalised

The Ministry of Religious Affairs on Monday, August 17, finalised COVID-19 SOPs for Muharram processions and majalis. Per the guidelines, it is mandatory to wear masks and to maintain two-meter distance from each other – seating space must be marked for majalis.

SAPM Health warns of virus resurgence

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr. Faisal Sultan, warned of a resurge in COVID-19 cases over the slightest bit of carelessness in adhering to health guidelines. Despite the sustained trend of declining coronavirus cases, he reiterated the importance of wearing masks and implementing other precautions, lest the current trend be immediately reversed.

Epidemic control centers in Punjab

Provincial Minister of Punjab for Primary and Secondary Healthcare and Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education, Dr. Yasmin Rashid, discussed Punjab’s integrated strategy to control the ongoing coronavirus pandemic with the World Health Organisation Country Director Dr. Palitha Gunarathna Mahipala at the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department on Monday, August 17.

During the meeting, Dr. Rashid informed the WHO official that Punjab will soon establish a series of epidemic control centers across the province, and that she was hopeful that the WHO would train local professionals in the responsive strategies to epidemics and communicable diseases. Dr. Mahipala also assured that the WHO would pledge $100,000 for epidemic prevention and control in the province.

15 more succumb to virus

Pakistan recorded 15 coronavirus-related deaths in past 24 hours – nine were reported in Sindh while two mortalities emerged in Punjab on August 17. Meanwhile, Peshawar reported no COVID-19 fatalities in the same time frame, recording a total of nine deaths in the province this week compared to 15 casualties reported for the week before.