Sharp rise in coronavirus infections in Pakistan; positivity ratio doubled

NIH data shows number of daily tests soars to nearly 20,000: India reports biggest jump in Covid cases in three months: US FDA concerned over potential Novavax myocarditis risk

By: News Desk
Published: 10:18 AM, 4 Jun, 2022
Pakistan coronavirus
Caption: A woman walks past boxes stacked on a street in the Jing'an district of Shanghai, China, following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in the city after a two-month lockdown.–AFP
Stay tunned with 24 News HD Android App
Get it on Google Play

There was a sharp uptick in the number of everyday coronavirus infections in Pakistan as after reporting just 36 cases the previous day the country recorded 94 Covid-19 infections, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

Though there was no death recorded during the last 24 hours (Friday) in Pakistan, the positivity ratio has also climbed up, showed the statistics released by the National Institute of Health Pakistan on Saturday morning.

As per the latest NIH data, the death toll remained the same at 30,379, whereas the number of total infections now stood at 1,530,650 after adding the fresh 94 cases.

During the last 24 hours (Friday), 19,142 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity ratio soared to 0.49 from 0.25 percent a day earlier. The number of patients in critical care was recorded at 65.

US FDA concerned over potential Novavax myocarditis risk

The US Food and Drug Administration voiced concern Friday about myocarditis being potentially linked to the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine, just as experts are to weigh its use in the United States.

The Novavax vaccine is already authorized in other countries, particularly in Europe. In the United States, an independent committee convened at the request of the FDA is to meet Tuesday to evaluate data from the clinical trials of Novavax and give its recommendation. 

In advance of that, the agency published a lengthy document on Friday analyzing these results, as it had done for the three other vaccines already authorized in the country. 

Shortly afterwards, Novavax stock dropped 20 percent on the New York Stock Exchange. 

Novavax's vaccine was found to be 90 percent effective against symptomatic cases of the disease, in trials conducted before the appearance of the Omicron variant, according to the FDA. 

But six cases of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, were detected in the group that received the vaccine, against one case in the placebo group, the agency pointed out. 

Five cases occurred within two weeks of vaccination. 

"Identification of multiple potential vaccine-associated cases" out of 40,000 clinical trial participants "raises concern that if causally associated, the risk of myocarditis following" the Novavax shot "could be higher than reported" on other vaccines such as Pfizer or Moderna, the FDA said.

A small risk of myocarditis had in fact been identified after Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations, which are based on Messenger-RNA, particularly in young men and adolescent boys. 

But the FDA noted that during clinical trials of these vaccines, no cases had yet been detected, and the agency appeared concerned that the risk is higher with Novavax.

The company issued a statement in response to the FDA report on Friday, saying "we believe there is insufficient evidence to establish a causal relationship", adding that it was normal "to see natural background events of myocarditis in any sufficiently large database."

India reports biggest jump in Covid cases in three months

The Indian government has asked five states -- Maharashtra, Kerala, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu -- to curb rising infections, according to June 3 letters dispatched by the Indian health ministry.

India reported 4,041 new Covid infections on Saturday -- the highest single-day jump since March 11 -- stoking fears of another wave building up in some parts of the country that has eased almost all restrictions.

India has recorded 43.17 million Covid infections since the start of the pandemic and 524,651 casualties, according to health ministry data, although the World Health Organization(WHO) has said the number of deaths is significantly higher. The daily positivity rate, or the confirmed Covid cases as a percentage of overall tests, stands at 0.95% for India while the weekly positivity rate has begun inching up, the data show.

Maharashtra, which was also an early hotspot in previous virus waves in India, is again seeing a spike in Covid infections, with the positivity rate breaching 8% this week. The state's capital, Mumbai, saw a 231% surge in hospitalizations in May compared with the preceding month. While hospital admissions in May were just 215, the trajectory has alarmed state authorities. India's devastating delta-led wave last summer had pushed daily cases past 400,000, overwhelming hospitals and crematoriums.

The Centre has asked five states -- Maharashtra, Kerala, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu -- to curb rising infections, according to June 3 letters dispatched by the health ministry to state governments. The ministry asked these states to "maintain a strict watch and take pre-emptive action" to control the spread of Covid.

Even as the world learns to live alongside Covid, its highly-transmissible variants such as omicron are still triggering new waves in places like China, New Zealand and Taiwan that had so far avoided the worst of the early pandemic. Chinese cities of Shanghai and Beijing continue to see cases despite hard containment measures while Hong Kong revived some of its toughest curbs as new variants flared up.

With inputs from AFP.