The numbers: As of Thursday afternoon, the total number of covid-19 cases in Pakistan has risen to 308,217. The virus accounts for 6,437 deaths overall, five of which have been reported in the past 24 hours. 294,392 patients have successfully recovered from the disease. While the disease seems to be contained, 799 cases have been reported in Pakistan over the last 24 hours. Overall, Sindh has reported 134,845 cases, and Punjab has reported 98,686, whereas 37,470 have been reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 14,765 in Balochistan. The tally for Islamabad Capital Territory stands at 16,288, whereas Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir have reported 3,572 and 2,591 cases respectively.
Reopening educational institutions: After the reopening of secondary and higher education institutions last week, middle school classes from Grade six to Grade eight were also allowed back to school in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan, according to guidelines provided by the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC). The Sindh government, however, decided to delay the opening of schools until September 28. In the public institutions of Sindh, 96 cases were reported after opening for students whereas 54 cases were reported in the private institutions. Some test results are pending. In Balochistan, a much higher number of coronavirus infections have been reported. With a total of 2,410 tests conducted, 285 cases were found with an alarming 11.85% positivity rate. In Punjab, 35 and 19 cases were reported in public and private institutions after reopening respectively, while 31 cases have been reported in the institutions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
A second wave?: A recent cross-sectional study conducted at the National Institute of Blood Diseases (NIBD) and published by the Oxford University Press Journal of Public Health suggests that the chances of a severe second wave of covid-19 in Pakistan are very low. The study surveyed the presence of antibodies against coronavirus among various groups of people in July and concluded that in the next few months, Pakistani citizens will most likely develop a herd immunity toward covid-19.
Vaccines: While Pakistan has the capability, experts, and technology to develop vaccines, the pharmaceutical industry has remained underdeveloped due to various reasons. Most of Pakistan’s vaccine requirements are met through imports from India and China. Following the covid-19 pandemic, a partnership has been formed between the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the CanSinoBio and Beijing Institute of Biotechnology China [BIB]. A coronavirus vaccine developed by the Chinese pharmaceutical company has begun a phase-III trial in Pakistan. The trials will include 40,000 participants, of which 8,000 to 10,000 will be from Pakistan and the initial results will be available in the next four to six months.