Pakistan posts 390 coronavirus infections, two deaths

NIH data shows positivity ratio stands at 2.24%: Netherlands latest country to detect Covid BA.2.75 subvariant: Novavax Covid-19 vaccine authorised for use in US

By: News Desk
Published: 09:46 AM, 14 Jul, 2022
Pakistan coronavirus
Caption: A Chinese health worker gets a swab sample from a woman to be tested for Covid-19 coronavirus at a swab collection site in Beijing.–AFP
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Pakistan has posted another 390 coronavirus infections and two deaths during the last 24 hours (Wednesday), showed the figures released by the National Institute of Health Pakistan on Thursday morning.

As per the NIH data, the death toll in the country now climbed up to 30,426 after adding the two fatalities while the number of total infections now stood at 1,544,131 after adding the fresh 390 cases.

During the last 24 hours (Wednesday), 17,397 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity ratio moved up to 2.24 percent. The number of patients in critical care was recorded at 175.

The maximum positivity ratio was recorded in Lahore at 4.62 percent, followed by Hyderabad 4.48 percent, 3.51 percent in Islamabad, 2.60 in Karachi, 1.60 in Peshawar and 1.15 percent in Multan.

During the last 24 hours (Wednesday), another 480 patients have recovered from the Covid-19 in Pakistan and the number of total recoveries now stood at 1,503,503. As of Thursday, the total count of active cases in the country was recorded at 10,202.

As many as 586,425 coronavirus cases have so far been confirmed in Sindh, 509,830 in Punjab, 220,334 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 136,708 in Islamabad, 35,625 in Balochistan, 43,439 in Azad Kashmir and 11,770 in Gilgit-Baltistan.

As many as 13,580 individuals have lost their lives to the pandemic in Punjab so far, 8,132 in Sindh, 6,325 in KP, 1,027 in Islamabad, 793 in Azad Kashmir, 378 in Balochistan and 191 in Gilgit Baltistan.


Netherlands latest country to detect Covid BA.2.75 subvariant

The Netherlands announced on Wednesday it has become the latest country to detect a case of the Covid Omicron subvariant BA.2.75, as experts expressed concern about the strain's rapid spread.

The subvariant, nicknamed "Centaurus", first emerged in India in May and has since spread to around 10 countries, including the United States, Britain, Germany and Australia.

It "has also now been identified in the Netherlands," the Dutch National Institute of Public Health said in a statement.

"Little is known about BA.2.75," the institute said, but it "appears to more easily bypass the defences built up against SARS-CoV-2 through small, specific changes".

The World Health Organisation's chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said last week that the UN agency was closely tracking the strain, but there were "limited sequences to analyse".

"This sub-variant seems to have a few mutations on the receptor binding domain of the spike protein... so we have to watch that," she said in a tweeted video.

She added that it was "too early to know" how well the strain can evade immunity or how severe it was.

Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva, told AFP that BA.2.75's spread in India indicated it could be more transmissible than the BA.5 Omicron subvariant, which has been driving waves in Europe and the US.

"It seems to be becoming the dominant strain in India -- the question is will it become the dominant strain all over the world?"

Flahault added that previous dominant strains, like Delta, had first taken over the country they emerged in before spreading across the world. 

But he said there was a "margin of unpredictability," pointing to how BA.2.12.1 became dominant in the US but BA.5 "succeeded" when the two came in direct competition.

Flahault added that successive variants made developing a vaccine to fight them more difficult, because by the time one jab targeting them was ready to be rolled out, newer strains had taken over.

It was far too early to know about the severity of BA.2.75, he added.

The Dutch sample was collected in the northern region of Gelderland on June 26, the institute said, adding it was "closely monitoring the situation" there.

Earlier this month, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control listed BA.2.75 as a "variant under monitoring".

Novavax Covid-19 vaccine authorized for use in US

The US Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized Novavax's Covid-19 shot for use in people aged 18 and over, expanding Americans' options for vaccination against the disease.

The vaccine -- which is produced by an American company -- is already available in dozens of other countries. Just three Covid shots, two of them based on messenger RNA technology, have been previously authorized in the United States.

The emergency authorization of the Novavax vaccine "offers adults in the United States who have not yet received a Covid-19 vaccine another option that meets the FDA's rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality," the FDA's commissioner Robert Califf said in a statement.

Administered in two doses three weeks apart, the Novavax vaccine uses a more conventional technology than the mRNA shots, which have been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories, though they have been proven to be safe.

Novavax's vaccine contains part of the virus that triggers an immune response -- the approach used by many other common shots.

In clinical trials involving thousands of people in the United States and Mexico, it was 90 percent effective against symptomatic cases of Covid-19. However, the trials were conducted prior to the emergence of the Delta and Omicron variants of the disease.

The vaccination rate of adults in the United States has stagnated at around 77 percent. 

The US government had announced this week that it had purchased 3.2 million Novavax doses in anticipation of the FDA decision.

With inputs from AFP.