COVID Watch | 15th January 2021

SAPM on Health confirms Pakistan yet to place order for vaccines; moderate humidity and cold weather may be accelerating COVID-19 transmission in Karachi; WHO conducts coronavirus management training for healthcare professionals in Peshawar's major hospitals.


Pakistan yet to place order for vaccines

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan confirmed to private newspaper The News that the Government of Pakistan has yet to place order for vaccines with any of the six companies registered with the National Institute of Health. He further stated that no exact date could be given for procurement of vaccines, as health authorities and the expert committee on COVID-19 are still deliberating on acquiring one or multiple ‘proven’ vaccines. Officials are not fast-tracking procurement of Chinese vaccines after Brazil reported a mere 50% efficacy for China’s Coronavac vaccine.

So far, only the Chinese state-owned Sinopharm has completed tests and submitted its data with the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) for approval and registration. Pakistan is also in talks with CanSinoBIO, a Canadian and Chinese joint enterprise, however the vaccine has yet to complete its clinical trials. While Russia has submitted data on its Sputnik V vaccine, DRAP has requested it for further information.

Dr. Sultan added that the government is trying to acquire vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine through the United Nation’s COVAX programme as well as direct orders.

Karachi weather accelerates infections

A combination of moderate humidity and low temperatures have created a unique circumstance that allows for faster transmission of the novel coronavirus disease in Karachi, say experts. Slums and shanty towns in particular are most vulnerable due to high population density. Karachi’s average positivity rate stands at around 15 percent against the national average of six to seven percent.

WHO trains KP professionals to treat virus

The World Health Organization (WHO) is conducting case management training sessions for healthcare professionals in Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital, Khyber Teaching Hospital and Hayatabad Medical Complex as part of the international body’s initiative to reduce COVID-19 mortalities in 22 at-risk countries, including Pakistan.

Earlier, a WHO team determined that the high number of coronavirus-related deaths in Peshawar is mainly due to late admissions of COVID-19 patients to healthcare facilities. The team determined that better management of critically-ill patients, many of whom have existing comorbidities, can help reduce fatalities.

COVID-19 situation update

45 succumbed to the virus while 2,072 managed to recover on Thursday, January 14. Daily cases are once again on the uptick as 2,417 COVID-19 cases were confirmed on the same day, indicating a positivity rate of 5.99%. Punjab continues to report the highest number of deaths at 22. Sindh followed with eleven fatalities, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with ten, and Balochistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir with one death each. 2,294 patients are currently in critical condition in public and private hospitals across the country.