Pakistan To Buy 1.2 Million Covid-19 Vaccine Doses From China’s company Sinopharm

Pakistan To Buy 1.2 Million Covid-19 Vaccine Doses From China’s company Sinopharm

Earlier this month, Pakistan had approved $150 million in funding to purchase 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, initially to cover the most vulnerable 5 percent of the country’s population.

A minister said on Thursday that the South Asian country will buy 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from the company Sinopharm of China. This is the first official confirmation from the government of a vaccine purchase by the country as it is facing a second wave of infections.

Pakistan’s Minister for Science and Technology, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, said on Twitter that the Cabinet Committee had decided to initially buy 1.2 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine from the Chinese company Sinopharm. These vaccine doses will be provided freely to frontline workers in the first quarter of 2021.

China approved the COVID-19 vaccine developed by state-sponsored medical company Sinopharm on Thursday, the first of its kind to be approved by the general public.

Pakistan earlier this month approved a $ 150 million grant to buy COVID-19 drugs, for the first time covering 5 percent of high-risk people.

Pakistan did not reveal which type of Covid-19 vaccine it would procure. However, the government said that a panel of experts was compiling a list of recommendations, which could tap more than one source.

Hussain said on Thursday that if the private sector wanted to import any other internationally-approved vaccine, it could do so.

The country of 220 million people is having to face up with another wave of infections. There are up to 58 deaths due to the virus on Wednesday, which takes its death count past 10,000.

It also reported 2,475 new infections, which took the total to 479,715 cases.

Pakistan also uses Candyino Biologics’ phase III clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccine employee, Ad5-nCoV, led by the state-run National Institute of Health.

Pakistan ready to welcome top cricketing countries next year

Pakistan ready to welcome top cricketing countries next year

Pakistan hasn’t hosted any home test matches for nearly a decade due to a terrorist attack on a rival team’s bus in 2009. Recently, the government has said it is ready now to welcome top cricketing nations such as South Africa, England, West Indies, and New Zealand in 2021.

Chief executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Wasim Khan, said that they’re working hard to build and nurture relationships with other cricket boards.

South Africa is scheduled to visit Pakistan in a two-test series, which is part of world test championship in January, 2021.

New Zealand is planned for five Twenty20s and three ODIs in September, followed by two Twenty20s against England, which will be England’s first tour to Pakistan since 2005.

The PCB has also scheduled a home series against West Indies in December.

After the 2009 terrorist attack, test cricket only came back to Pakistan late last year as Sri Lanka played two five-day games at Karachi and Rawalpindi and Bangladesh also played a test match before their second test was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In between the Zimbabwe and Bangladesh tours, the Pakistan Super League – a domestic Twenty20 league – presses Pakistan’s claims to host international games.

There were some big players who toured Pakistan and played for various city-based franchise teams, including Australia’s Shane Watson and South Africa’s Dale Steyn and Faf du Plessis. Wasim Khan believes these players had a key role in capturing Pakistan’s improving image among cricket-playing nations all over the world.

It is quite normal in Pakistan that cricket team buses heavily guarded by armed personnel whenever abroad contingents travel to the stadium from hotels to ensure tight security. That often blocks heavy traffic on major roads of big cities such as Lahore and Karachi.

Khan said that they would continue to provide state-level security as long as possible.

Pakistan and India dominate air pollution database of WHO

Pakistan and India dominate air pollution database of WHO

Currently, agricultural burning adds to the air pollution issues across Pakistan and India, especially in the north. The region has 16 among the 20 most polluted cities in the global air pollution database of the World Health Organization (WHO). However, are they the most polluted places in the world ever recorded? Although lack of measurements makes historic comparisons difficult, we have some clues.

More than 200 years ago, Benjamin Franklin was one of the first scientists who studied electricity in the atmosphere. Air pollution also changes the electrical properties of our air, although lightning is the most obvious manifestation.

In 1790, electrical measurements near Hyde Park suggested the particle pollution of the 18th-century London was about half the annual average in the most polluted cities in India in the present.

Air pollution is a huge problem in India, killing more than 1 million in the country every year, according to researches. According to the IQAir report, on average, its cities exceed WHO guidelines for the amount of particulate pollution (PM2.5) in the atmosphere by up to 500 precent.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, around 135,000 deaths are attributed to air pollution every year, making it the top cause of sickness and death smog. The country spends about 5.88% of GDP or $47.8 billion on solving air pollution issues. During some past decades, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan have successfully enforced policies to lessen air pollution and accentuate that today’s air pollution need not be tomorrow’s fate.

Things had deteriorated by 1900. Measurements of atmospheric electricity at Kew show that air pollution in London was similar to the worst Indian cities nowadays.

However, the UK was home to 44 million people in the 1920s and bout 400 million people are exposed to the poor air in the Ganges River basin on north India, making it a far larger air pollution crisis.

Pakistan in one of the world’s best solar zones

Pakistan in one of the world’s best solar zones

Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) CEO Dr Rana Abdul Jabbar Khan says that solar energy can lower the price of electricity for consumers.

Solar power is the country’s new way to guarantee its energy security as well as to decrease the basket price of electricity for consumers, according to Dr Rana Abdul Jabbar Khan.

At the first virtual conference on Solarization of Pakistan, organized by Energy Update, Khan said the country should take the advantage of its presence in one of the world’s best solar zones. He added that due to a steep decline in solar electricity rates, solar energy had lately become the cheapest source of energy among the low-cost alternatives for generating electricity.

He declared that the AEDB would support full exploitation of solar power potential in Pakistan so that by 2030 the country could generate up to 30 percent of its electricity from clean sources of energy. And the AEDB had been conducting the country’s solar resource mapping with support of the World Bank (WB) and nine solar stations had been established in various areas.

Additionally, the board is taking required measures in order to introduce competitive bidding for the alternative energy projects in Pakistan.

On the occasion, PM Housing Task Force Chairman Zaigham Mahmood Rizvi emphasized the need for using high-quality equipment to generate solar electricity for long-term benefit.

He said solar equipment of superior quality could last up to four decades for maximum benefit of the energy system.

Rizvi also said quite soon export-oriented industries would have to install alternative energy plants since their products that were manufactured with the assistance of conventional sources of energy might not be accepted by the developed countries.

According to Sindh Solar Energy Project Director Mehfooz Qazi, the Sindh government had been working on projects to promote the use of solar energy. He hoped that the new Alternative Energy Policy would help implement the WB-assisted solar project in Sindh.

Tokyo Olympic Games must be held regardless of the status of Covid-19, says Japanese minister

Tokyo Olympic Games must be held regardless of the status of Covid-19, says Japanese minister

Japanese minister Seiko Hashimoto says the hosting country is planning for the Tokyo Olympic Games next year, whether the vaccine is widely available  or not.

Seiko Hashimoto has said, that the Tokyo Olympics must be held “at any cost”, as organizers go on to weigh up options for staging a post-pandemic celebration of sport in Tokyo next summer.

She told reporters on Tuesday that everyone involved with the Games is working hard together to prepare and all athletes are also making great efforts towards next year. She wants to concentrate all of their efforts on measures against the coronavirus.

She suggested the priority had changed from planning for the complete Games into an event that would be able to enable athletes to compete regardless of the status of the world health crisis.

There remains a growing belief within the national Olympic committees that the events will happen following lengthy discussions about how they can be held safely.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games were suspended in March when the Covid-19 pandemic started its rampage through the US, Europe, India, Brazil, and other parts around the world.

Health experts warn that a vaccine seems not to be widely available by the time the opening ceremony is planned to take place on 23 July 2021. As a result, a task force of organizers, health experts, national and local government officials met last week to discuss about anti-virus measures.

The group, expected to release an interim report at the end of the year, is sifting through over 200 proposals on how best to prevent an Olympic-related outbreak at the same time enabling about 11,000 athletes from over 200 countries to travel to Japan.

The Tokyo chief executive, Toshiro Muto, insisted Last week that the Olympic Games must be held even if a vaccine was unavailable since a vaccine is not a requirement. However, if vaccines are developed, they will really appreciate it and that would be great for the Olympics.

Although it is possible to reduce the risks to athletes, it is much harder in terms of ensuring the safety of huge numbers of spectators from overseas.

Four Things To Keep In Mind To Travel Smart in a COVID-19 World

Four Things To Keep In Mind To Travel Smart in a COVID-19 World

Keeping track of what countries are open to foreign travelers, along with any entrance rules, such as negative COVID-19 tests and quarantine requirements upon arrival, seems to be more stressful than being wedged in a middle seat in economy on a long-haul flight. So here we are listing four things to keep in mind before you plan for an international trip during a pandemic.

Make it short and sweet. Quick trips can provide the same benefits like those of a longer vacation. Even a brief change of scenery can help you recharge. Just an overnight or weekend trip can be enough to give you and your friends or family the rest you need.

Book at the last minute. Consider booking a trip just before you want to start your trip so there is no risk of your plans changing because of unexpected travel restrictions. Due to the world health crisis, a lot of hotels and travel sites around the world now list the cleanliness and safety measures being taken. What you should do is to take this into account when booking your accommodations. In spite of what you may think, you can take advantage of last-minute discounts on booking sites such as Hotwire, whose Hot Rate deals often get even better the week before your departure.

Do your pre-trip research. Before you plan a trip, don’t forget to check for the most recent local or regional travel recommendations in both your living region and your destination. Do your own research about what facilities are open and whether reservation requirements or occupancy limits may affect your plans. In addition, check into any travel limitations and if you will be subject to quarantine upon arrival or after visiting certain locations.

Stay close to home. Consider traveling to local destinations or those within easy driving distance. It is the change in routine, rather than how far you go, can benefit your mental health, so explore a city close to home at the same time reaping the same restorative benefits of a more exotic location.

Pakistan Church condemns violence against minorities

Pakistan Church condemns violence against minorities

The National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference releases a statement after the death of a Christian in a brutal attack.

The Catholic Church of Pakistan has denounced the religious discrimination and intolerance against the country’s minorities that go on even amid the hardships of Covid-19 pandemic and its restrictions.

The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (PCBC) announced a statement to show its concern and sent a copy of the statement to the Vatican’s Fides news agency.

NCJP – “violation of human rights”

A joint statement by NCJP chairman, national director Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf, executive director Cecil Chaudhry, and Archbishop Joseph Arshad Bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi called on law enforcement agencies to do anything possible to bring the culprit to justice.  The NCJP called it a “clear violation of human rights” and said that it is an act against the law which cannot go unpunished. 

Police arrested some members of Salman Khan’s family who are thought to be behind the murder.

The NCJP urged protection for Nadeem’s family that is facing difficulty and danger of reprisal.

Intolerance and discrimination continue

The Commission of Pakistan’s Catholic bishops showed regret that society has become intolerant and life has become more and more difficult for minority communities.

The NCJP noted many cases go unreported, saying that religious minorities keeps facing discrimination as part of their daily lives. For example, it cited the denial of relief material and food aid to non-Muslims during the lockdown and the lack of safety equipment to health workers who are fighting the pandemic. 

Moreover, the Commission pointed to the recent episode in Islamabad in which some extremist Muslims destroyed the building of a Hindu temple.  Fr. Yousaf said that the incident reflects the lack of acceptance of religious minorities who have been a part of the country. He added such acts go against Article 20 of the Constitution, which allows religious minorities to manage their own religious institutions and profess their faith.

90% of sports activities in Pakistan can resume, according to Pakistan’s Olympic chief

90% of sports activities in Pakistan can resume, according to Pakistan’s Olympic chief

President of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) Lt Gen Arif Hassan believes that about 90 percent of sports activities can resume in the country in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Arif, it was time to prepare a comprehensive blueprint for the coming back of sports after taking all possible precautionary measures and urged the government to look into it. He believes that they can allow the resumption of almost 90 percent of sports activities in the country, step by step, by following proper guidelines and SOPs.

In March, the government launched a nation-wide lockdown with the aim of slowing down the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The government notification included a ban on all organized sports activities. In recent weeks, the authorities have eased the restrictions on various activities in order to lift the country’s sagging economy and the ban on sports activities hasn’t been reviewed.

The POA chief is of the opinion that the resumption of sports in the country could take place step by step by starting with sports which has a minimum risk of spreading the virus, such as bicycling. However, of course, it is necessary to take all the necessary precautions with proper SOPs in place and ensure that all athletes taking part in a competition are tested for the Covid-19 before giving them permission.

In many other countries in the world, the biggest problem when resuming major sports events is that the can only go ahead without spectators due to the Covid-19 situation. However, this isn’t a big problem for most sports events in Pakistan since only major cricket matches and a few other sports attract a large number of spectators.

Arif urged the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination, which governs Pakistan sports, to take the lead and prepare a plan for the resumption of sports activities in the country.

Pakistan eases restrictions, small businesses reopen

Pakistan eases restrictions, small businesses reopen

Small shops and markets reopen across Pakistan after the government relaxed coronavirus restrictions due to the virus’ economic impact.

Pakistan further relaxed coronavirus restriction on Monday in order to open small shops and markets across the country in spite of a sharp rise in COVID-19 infected cases.

According to the government officials, all the small shops, markets, and allied industries of the construction sector reopened on Monday under a federal government announcement last week.

Ajmal Khan Wazir, spokesman of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, said that as part of the government decision, all small shops and markets will reopen from morning to evening for four days per week.

Wazir requested the public to follow standard methods to prevent the coronavirus’ spread.

Last Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan also announced a gradual exit from the nationwide lockdown in spite of an increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Prime Minister Khan said that the nationwide lockdown has badly hurt small businessmen, laborers, and the general public. He added that the country’s tax revenues dropped 35% while exports also fell because of the lockdown.

However, the government still extended the closure of education institutions in the whole country until July 15.

In March, the country imposed a nationwide lockdown, closing markets, shops, shopping centers, and offices except for emergency services, as parts of a desperate move in order to curb surging coronavirus cases.

Last month, Prime Minister Khan announced the reopening of “low-risk” industries, such as agriculture, e-commerce, paper and packaging, construction, to stem a deepening economic meltdown due to the virus.

The government also allowed prayer in mosques for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Pakistan, the second worst-hit country in the region after India, has climbed to 30,931, according to the Health Ministry. The death toll in the country also risen to 667.

Meanwhile, 8,212 people have recovered and discharged from the hospitals.

Globally, there have been more than 4.1 million cases of the coronavirus, along with about 283,000 deaths and more than 1.4 million recoveries, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University.

COVID-19 vaccine trials might be completed by mid-August

COVID-19 vaccine trials might be completed by mid-August

Trials for a coronavirus vaccine could be done by mid-August, a key adviser to the US government has said.

John Bell, a member of the US government’s coronavirus vaccine task force, said that human test trials for a coronavirus vaccine had started at Oxford University this week.

But he stressed that the real question was whether the vaccine would be effective, not when it would become available. It will only be tested when we have vaccinated a significant number of people and exposed them to the COVID-19 and counted how many people have got COVID-19 in that population.

However, he also said if things go on course and it does have efficacy, it might be possible that their team would be able to complete the trial by mid-August.

Bell added that after a wide range of safety studies, a candidate vaccine tested at Oxford had gone “into man” for the first time last Thursday. If there will be any evidence of a strong immune response by the end of May, then the next step would be the massive issue of how they would manufacture at scale many billions of doses.

The comments came under mounting pressure on the US government to provide frontline staff in hospitals and care homes with personal protective equipment after it emerged that doctors and nurses have been asked by the NHS to work without protective full-length gowns as treating COVID-19 patients.

The chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said that some trusts will run out of supplies on this weekend since the national stock of protective full-length gowns was now exhausted.

The business secretary, Alok Sharma, announced on Friday details of cash grants for vaccines and potential treatment research, which the government hopes to be regularly given to healthcare staff and other high-risk groups in order to provide protection over some weeks or months.

There are at least 56 NHS workers having died from COVID-19. The actual number of healthcare staff to have lost their lives seems to be much higher since not all deaths will be in the public domain.