Pakistan logs six coronavirus deaths, 372 infections in 24 hours

Delta still dominates, say experts urging third vaccine jab

By: News Desk      Published: 07:55 AM, 5 Dec, 2021
Pakistan coronavirus
A woman receives a second dose of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine jab at a temporary coronavirus vaccination centre set up inside St John's Church in west London.–AFP

Pakistan has recorded another six deaths and 372 infections from the coronavirus pandemic during the last 24 hours (Saturday), showed the figures released by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Sunday morning.

As per the NCOC data, after the addition of six new deaths, the overall toll has now surged to 28,767 whereas the number of total infections now stood at 1,286,825 after adding the fresh 372 cases.

During the last 24 hours (Saturday), a total of 45,307 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity ratio stood at 0.82 percent. The number of patients in critical care was 854.

During the last 24 hours (Saturday), as many as 262 patients have recovered from the virus whereas the total recoveries stood at 1,245,606. As of Sunday, the total count of active cases in the country was recorded at 12,452.

As many as 476,674 coronavirus cases have so far been confirmed in Sindh, 443,453 in Punjab, 180,316 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 107,887 in Islamabad, 33,506 in Balochistan, 34,576 in Azad Kashmir and 10,413 in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Moreover, 13,037 individuals have lost their lives to the pandemic in Punjab so far, 7,626 in Sindh, 5,858 in KP, 958 in Islamabad, 742 in Azad Kashmir, 360 in Balochistan and 186 in Gilgit Baltistan.

 

Delta still dominates, say experts

No one knows how effective vaccines will be in stopping people catching the newly discovered and fast-spreading Omicron variant of Covid-19 or how well they will protect against severe illness.

Lab tests are under way to determine vaccine efficacy against Omicron with results expected within weeks. 

In the meantime the Delta variant remains dominant and experts, governments and vaccine makers are urging people to take advantage of booster jabs where they are available.

Delta has proved able to evade vaccine defences against transmission better than the Alpha, Beta and Gamma Covid variants. 

But jabs have remained highly effective at preventing severe illness from Delta, lowering the risk of overwhelming hospital resources.

With Delta still dominant in Europe, some countries are trying to accelerate their third jab campaigns.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson set a goal of offering a booster to all adults by the end of January and decreasing the waiting period between second and third jabs from six to three months.

In the US, Pfizer is seeking authorisation for its jab to be given as a booster to 16- and 17-year-olds.

"It would be a serious mistake to slow down now," said Alain Fischer, who coordinates France's pandemic vaccine strategy.

"Our message is: Don’t freak out, the plan remains the same: Speed up the administration of a third booster shot,” BioNTech co-founder Ugur Sahin said on Tuesday.

But Moderna chief Stephane Bancel told the Financial Times this week that he expected "a material drop" in the shots' effectiveness against the new variant.

Lab tests to measure Omicron's vulnerability to the vaccines in use today are under way, a process that should yield results in two to three weeks.

Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna each say they have begun work on a new version of their vaccine specifically targeting Omicron -- in case existing jabs don't work against it.

When Delta arrived on the scene, Pfizer developed a jab especially for the variant but never rolled it out.

"Labs ended up relying on the fact that their jabs protected against severe Covid – but it still allows the virus to circulate," said Bruno Canard, a coronavirus expert at French national research institute CNRS.

Pfizer has promised a new vaccine within 100 days but the roll-out will take far longer and won't be in place before spring, Canard said.

"In the meantime, current vaccines protect against serious forms of Covid from the Delta variant."

GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS

Here are the global developments in the coronavirus crisis:

- Rio party off - 

Rio de Janeiro is scrapping its traditional New Year festivities as it tackles the new Omicron variant in Brazil, according to city authorities.

The decision raises concern for the annual carnival, which was cancelled last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic

- Morocco too -

The Moroccan government has decided to ban all cultural and artistic festivals and gatherings because of the spread of Omicron.

- Belgium covers up -

Belgian schools will require children aged six and above to wear masks because of "an autumn wave that has been much tougher than expected," the government says.

Indoor venues such as cinemas will be limited to 200 people from Monday, with people required to be seated and wearing masks.

- Merkel parting shot -

Chancellor Angela Merkel told Germans in her final video podcast to get jabbed: "I once again emphatically ask you to take this tricky virus seriously."

- Danish PM unmasked -

Denmark's prime minister Mette Frederiksen apologises after being filmed shopping without a mask, four days after her government reintroduced mandatory face coverings.

- Covid reaches Cook Islands -

The Cook Islands records its first case of Covid-19 since the pandemic began, as the South Pacific country edges toward reopening its borders to tourists.

The nation of around 17,000 people has one of the highest vaccination rates globally, with 96 percent of the eligible population double-dosed.

With inputs from AFP.