Everyday Covid tests skyrocket in Pakistan

NIH data shows infectivity rate slides to 0.42%: In final briefing, Fauci urges Americans to get vaccinated: Top figures in Covid fight leaving in WHO shake-up

By: News Desk
Published: 09:27 AM, 23 Nov, 2022
Pakistan coronavirus
Caption: Representational image.
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The count of daily Covid-19 tests has skyrocketed as Pakistan posted 27 more coronavirus infections and no death during the last 24 hours (Tuesday), showed the statistics released by the National Institute of Health (NIH) on Wednesday morning, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

According to the NIH data, the death toll in the country remained the same at 30,630 whereas the number of total infections now rose to 1,574,966 after adding the fresh 27 cases.

During the last 24 hours (Tuesday), 6,666 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity ratio dropped to 0.42 percent. The number of patients in critical care was 40.

Fauci urges Americans to get vaccinated

True to form, America's outgoing top infectious disease official, Anthony Fauci, used what may be his final White House appearance Tuesday to convey a simple message.

"Please for your own safety and for that of your family, get your updated Covid-19 shot as soon as you're eligible," said the 81-year-old, hammering home a public health mantra in the face of slow booster uptake.

Vaccines targeting Omicron's sublineages BA.4 and BA.5 have been widely available since summer, but so far only 11 percent of the eligible over-five population in the United States have received them.

Boosting the case, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study that showed the new shots reduced the risk of infection by around 30 percent among people who had the last of their doses two or three months earlier.

President Joe Biden's Covid coordinator Ashish Jha also announced a "six-week sprint" to increase shots in arms by the end of the year and blunt the impact of an expected winter wave.

Influenza and RSV, which are rebounding after two years of containment during lockdowns, are already adding to the burden on the health care system and could get worse.

But Fauci offered a hopeful assessment about prospects as cold weather settles in.

Between the vaccinated and those with prior infections, he said he hoped "there's enough community protection that we're not going to see a repeat of what we saw last year at this time," even as newer variants emerge.

Fauci will step down next month from his roles in government as Biden's chief medical advisor, as well as director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, which he has headed since 1984.

The physician-scientist first rose to prominence during the HIV-AIDS crisis, and more recently led the US response to the Zika virus and Ebola.

Reflecting on his time helming America's fight against Covid, Fauci admitted the government could have done a better job at conveying uncertainty early on in the pandemic when advice changed fast.

But he said the most difficult thing he had to deal with was the polarization that had fractured America along political lines.

"When I see people...not getting vaccinated for reasons that have nothing to do with public health, that have to do because of divisiveness, and ideological differences, as a physician, it pains me," he said.

"Whether you're a far right Republican or a far left Democrat, doesn't make any difference to me. I look upon it the same way as I did in the emergency room in the middle of New York City."

On the proliferation of bad health advice online, he said the "way you counter misinformation and disinformation, is to do whatever you can as often as you can to provide correct information."

Indeed, Fauci often found himself having to contradict then-president Donald Trump's unscientific Covid advice -- such as ingesting bleach to fight the virus -- in clashes that helped turn him into a hated figure on the far right.

Republican lawmakers are expected to grill Fauci when they take control of the House of Representatives in January, but the scientist said he remained undaunted.

"We can defend and explain and stand by everything that we've said so I have nothing to hide."

Top figures in Covid fight leaving in WHO shake-up

Two of the World Health Organization's most senior figures in the fight against Covid-19 are quitting next week, according to a letter from the WHO chief seen by AFP on Tuesday.

Indian paediatrician and clinical scientist Soumya Swaminathan is leaving her post as the WHO's chief scientist, while Mariangela Simao of Brazil is departing as the UN health agency's assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products.

The pair were among the top WHO officials leading global efforts to coordinate the response to the pandemic since Covid-19 was first detected in China in late 2019.

They have been part of the WHO's public-facing team in the search for vaccines, tests and treatments to combat the pandemic.

The departures were announced in a letter to colleagues written by WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as part of a shake-up of his top team following his re-election for a second five-year term in May.

"I would like to express my abiding appreciation and respect to members of my senior leadership team whose appointments with WHO are coming to an end on November 30," Tedros said in the letter.

"These distinguished individuals have my deepest gratitude for their commitment and contribution to the organisation over the last five years."

Swaminathan and her team worked to keep up with and communicate the constantly-evolving science around Covid-19.

Simao often took the lead in explaining the search for vaccines and the WHO approval process for Covid jabs.

Also heading for the out door are former French health minister Agnes Buzyn, Tedros's multilateral affairs envoy; and former British government minister Jane Ellison, who is leaving as executive director for external affairs and governance.

"The team has... helped steer WHO through a global pandemic that ravaged the health and well-being of the entire world and had a profound and ongoing impact on global public health," Tedros said.

"Thanks to their leadership and expertise, these departing members of the senior leadership team made a truly positive difference, and their legacy is a strengthened and more agile, equitable, and resilient WHO."

No announcements have yet been made on fresh appointments.

With inputs from AFP.

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