By Hamid Khan Wazir
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Prime Minister’s Special Advisor on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan has said that there is already a slight but definitive rise in COVID-19 cases but the second wave, the so-called “winter pandemic”, can be avoided with the right efforts and precautions.
While speaking at the research launch of the report “Pakistan’s Fight against COVID-19” by the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) in Islamabad on Thursday, Dr. Faisal Sultan said that the threat of COVID is ever-present, and with respiratory diseases traditionally gaining momentum in the winter, caution is ever more necessary.
Dr. Faisal Sultan said that the initial polar public perception has now been transformed into unipolar perception in favor of smart lockdowns.
The Special Assistant further remarked that countries with similar socioeconomic infrastructures have not fared well, in addition to countries where federal structures have been devolved.
Regarding the vaccine, he said that if and when available, Pakistan will prioritize subsets of the population first, such as those at high risk and frontline workers. He said that we have to carefully allocate resources for vaccination as Pakistan does not have sufficient resources to invest in all the global vaccination efforts.
The advantage Pakistan has is that our polio vaccination teams can quickly and efficiently inoculate the population, though unlike polio, it will not be a simultaneous, mass effort.
The CRSS report states that Pakistan has, against all forecasts and odds, bent the COVID-19 curve in its favor. Broadly speaking, the creation of a central mechanism for all coordination, collation, decision-making, and implementation in the form of the NCOC, piggybacking on the polio surveillance network, and dramatically ramping up healthcare infrastructure resulted in Pakistan’s strong response to the pandemic.
The Special Assistant said that despite the demonstrable success of the curbing mechanisms, this is no time to celebrate or drop our collective guard.
The threat of the COVID-19 pandemic is very real and ever-present. Continued caution and stringent adherence to COVID-19 SOPs are crucial to ensure the current situation stays under control. Without vigilance from every member of the general public, and continued pressure from the government, this disease could spread easily and wreak havoc.