Pakistan reports two coronavirus deaths, 117 infections

NIH data shows number of everyday tests rises to 19,090: 60 percent of US population had Covid by February: WHO warns testing cuts leave world 'increasingly blind' to Covid spread

By: News Desk
Published: 09:33 AM, 27 Apr, 2022
Pakistan reports two coronavirus deaths, 117 infections
Caption: A health worker gets a swab sample from a man to be tested for Covid-19 coronavirus at a swab collection site in Beijing.–AFP
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Pakistan has reported fresh 117 coronavirus infections and two deaths during the last 24 hours (Tuesday), showed the statistics released by the National Institute of Health Pakistan on Wednesday morning.

As per the latest NIH data, after the addition of two deaths the toll has increased to 30,371, whereas the number of total infections now stood at 1,527,973 after adding the fresh 117 cases.

During the last 24 hours (Tuesday), 19,090 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity ratio stood at 0.61 percent. The number of patients in critical care was recorded at 145.

Nearly 60% of US population had Covid by February

By February of this year, 58 percent of the US population -- more than 190 million people -- had been infected with Covid, according to an antibody survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published Tuesday.

The figure is far higher than the 80 million officially recorded cases, with the majority of infections undiagnosed, asymptomatic or unreported.

Roughly 75 percent of people under 18 had been infected, according to a paper based on a nationally representative study of antibody levels. 

There was a huge surge during the winter Omicron wave, particularly among children.

Each month from September 2021 to January 2022, the study examined some 75,000 blood specimens taken from across the country, as well as 45,000 samples in February.

The study examined only antibodies created in response to prior infection, not vaccination.

National estimates were then produced using statistical methods to weight by age, sex and metropolitan status.

"Having infection-induced antibodies does not necessarily mean you are protected against future infections," said Kristie Clarke, co-lead for the national Covid-19 serology task force, on a call with reporters.

"Previous infection has been shown to provide some protection against severe disease and hospitalization -- and vaccination, either before or after infection, provides additional protection," she added.

Since the duration of infection-conferred immunity is unknown, it remains vital to stay up to date with Covid vaccination, she stressed. 

The United States is currently offering fourth shots to people 50 and over, and third shots to people under that age.

Pfizer on Tuesday said it had submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration to authorize a third shot to children ages five to 11, following strong immune response data.

Children five and under are the only group not yet eligible for vaccination.

"The best way to protect them is to make sure that they are surrounded by people who are taking preventive measures, like staying up to date with our vaccines," said Clarke.

- More Covid pills -

President Joe Biden's administration meanwhile announced Tuesday it is doubling the number of outlets where at-risk Americans can obtain free Covid-19 therapeutic pills.

Oral therapeutics such as Pfizer's Paxlovid tablet are seen as an important new weapon in the struggle to knock out a virus that at its peak a year ago killed more than 3,000 people per day in the United States alone.

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain called Paxlovid a "miracle pill" and tweeted that "almost all Covid deaths can be prevented if people who test positive take" it.

With 20 million pill packs ordered for government purchase, they are now "in ample supply" and distribution will be ramped up from the current 20,000 locations to close to 40,000, according to a White House official.

Nationwide, cases are ticking up with infections caused by the BA.2 and BA.2.12.1 Omicron subvariants -- including a rash of cases sweeping through the Washington elite.

Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive Tuesday, but is asymptomatic and not considered a current close contact of Biden, the White House said.

Upstate New York and the Northeast region are also experiencing an increase in hospitalizations, and the CDC recommends indoor masking in those areas, though mandates have long ceased to be in effect there.

Even with rising hospitalizations, there has been a sharp reduction in fatalities, mainly as a result of rising population immunity, but also because the newer variants are intrinsically less severe than those that preceded them.

Daily deaths stand at a little over 300 per day. The country is expected to reach the grim milestone of one million deaths in the coming weeks.

Testing cuts leave world 'increasingly blind' to Covid spread: WHO

A dramatic drop in testing for Covid-19 has left the world blind to the virus's continuing rampage and its potentially dangerous mutations, the World Health Organization warned Tuesday.

The UN health agency said that reported Covid cases and deaths had been dropping dramatically.

"Last week, just over 15 thousand deaths were reported to WHO -- the lowest weekly total since March 2020," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.

While this is "a very welcome trend," he warned that the declining numbers could also be a result of significant cuts in testing for the virus.

"This makes us increasingly blind to patterns of transmission and evolution," Tedros said.

"When it comes to a deadly virus, ignorance is not bliss."

William Rodriguez, who heads the global diagnostics alliance FIND, also decried that many governments in recent months simply stopped looking for Covid cases.

Speaking at the press conference hosted by WHO, he pointed out that in the past four months, amid surging Covid cases from the Omicron variant, "testing rates have plummeted by 70 to 90 percent worldwide."

The plunging testing rates came despite the fact that there is now more access to accurate testing than ever before.

"We have an unprecedented ability to know what is happening," Rodriguez pointed out.

"And yet today because testing has been the first casualty of a global decision to let down our guard, we're becoming blind to what is happening with this virus." 

The Covid-19 pandemic has officially caused more than six million deaths since the virus first surfaced in China in late 2019, but the true toll is believed to be at least three times that high.

While many countries have been removing measures and trying to move back to a semblance of normality, the WHO stresses that the pandemic is still not over.

"This virus won’t go away just because countries stop looking for it," Tedros said, pointing out that "it is still spreading, it is still changing, and it is still killing."

He cautioned that "the threat of a dangerous new variant remains very real."

"And although deaths are declining, we still don't understand the long-term consequences of infection in those who survive."

With inputs from AFP.