Pakistan News

Prime Minister Imran Khan getting his first shot of the Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday, two days before testing positive. — PM Office/File

Prime Minister Imran Khan testing positive just two days after receiving the first dose of the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine has once again set forth a flurry of questions on vaccine protection, which could also be used as fodder by the many vaccine doubters in the country.

Here, we look at what the science and experts tell us on the time it takes for vaccine protection to kick in and the extent to which vaccines guarantee protection from the virus.

Dr Javed Akram, member of the federal government’s Scientific Task Force on Covid-19 and Vice Chancellor University of Health Sciences, while taking to Dawn.com, said it was not uncommon for people to get infected just after vaccination.

“The fact is that antibodies start developing five to seven days after getting the first shot of vaccine. After two weeks, antibodies reach to protective levels but it takes 28 days to reach [their] optimum level.

“Despite that, it cannot be said that a person has become fully protected from virus as no vaccine has 100 per cent efficacy. Around 80pc efficacy rate [for Sinopharm] means that a person, despite getting fully vaccinated, can be infected with virus but they will develop minor symptoms and there will be fewer chances of death.”

Experts in the UAE, where Sinopharm is among the main vaccines being employed, corroborate Dr Akram’s stance.

“For the vaccines to build up immunity, it takes a couple of weeks after the second dose,” Dr Muhammed Shafeeq, Specialist-Pulmonology at Aster Hospital, Al Qusais, told Khaleej Times.

Dr Anthony Thomas, Director Diagnostic Division and Pathologist with Prime Healthcare Group, also noted that “the efficacy of the [Sinopharm] vaccine varies from 75 to 85 per cent” and thus immunity is not assured in everyone.

That means even after two weeks of being fully vaccinated, there are slim chances of contracting the virus as no vaccine is a 100pc effective. For Sinopharm, which has an average efficacy of close to 80pc, this means there are chances that one out five people will still not be protected.

For other vaccines, such as Moderna and Pfizer, which have higher efficacies of close to 95pc, one in 20 people will still remain unprotected.

Can inactivated vaccines cause the virus?

No.

Dr Akram also confirmed that vaccines could not infect people with Covid-19, adding that “inactivated vaccines don’t have transmission potential.”

He said PM Imran's positive test had no connection to the vaccine shot he received 48 hours ago.

“I believe that premier was already infected with the virus but symptoms could not be developed as incubation period of virus is 7 to 10 days. It will be next to impossible to test and trace from whom he was infected as positivity rate of virus has reached to around 10 percent in Pakistan and over 3,000 people are being infected daily,” he said.

Sinopharm and several other Chinese jabs are what are called inactivated vaccines, which means they use a variant of the coronavirus to help the body learn how to fight the actual virus. But since these coronaviruses are “inactivated” they can no longer replicate.

Inactivated viruses have been used to create vaccines successfully for more than a century now, and a few examples include vaccines for the poliovirus, rabies and hepatitis A.

“Inactivated vaccines don’t have transmission potential. While we were doing trial of Cansino Bio, at UHS Lahore, as many as 112 volunteers developed Covid-19 but it did not mean that they were infected due to the vaccine.

“All of them were already infected and that is why we have decided that during a new trial, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests will be held,” Dr Akram, who supervised the clinical trial of Cansino at UHS and is National Principle Investigator for clinical trials of another Chinese vaccine, said.

Dr Faisal Mahmood, head of infectious diseases at Aga Khan University, also said that it is not possible to contract Covid-19 after receiving the Sinopharm vaccine as it contained an inactivated form of the virus.

"Getting the coronavirus [after being vaccinated] is not possible," he said. He added that the vaccine begins to work two to four weeks after being administered the second dose.

He stated that Prime Minister Imran Khan had begun showing symptoms two days after being vaccinated which meant that the vaccine had not had sufficient time to protect him against the virus.

Global experts weigh in

Experts across the globe agree that the human body needs “two to three weeks” to build an immune response once the vaccine is administered – irrespective of which vaccine has been taken.

Dr Anthony Fauci, a leading expert from the US, said partial immunity is achieved about two weeks after the first shot of two-dose vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna.

He said once the second shot is administered, then close to two weeks later there is “a ten-fold increase in neutralising antibodies”.

 

 trol (CDC) also corroborates this and states the following on its website in regards to when people are considered “fully vaccinated”:

“People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.”

The CDC further notes that since it takes a few weeks for immunity to build, it is possible to get infected with Covid-19 a few days before or after getting the first vaccine shot. “This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.”

Kuwait's Minister of Foreign Affairs and State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Dr Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah. PHOTO: COURTESY/MOFA.GOV.KW

ISLAMABAD:

Kuwait will lift a ban on work visas for Pakistan, announced Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Wednesday as the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister begins his two-day official trip to Islamabad from Thursday.

Kuwait had banned work visas for Pakistan in 2011 and despite attempts by previous governments the restrictions could not be lifted. In March 2017, the then government had also announced the lifting of the ban by Kuwait during the visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the oil-rich country. However, the decision was never implemented.

According to the interior minister, Kuwait would start issuing work visas to Pakistanis once the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

The formal announcement, sources said, is expected during the visit of Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Dr Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah, who would be visiting Pakistan on March 18-19.

He will be accompanied by a delegation comprising senior officials from the Kuwaiti Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health, Interior, and Trade and Industry, said a foreign office statement.

The statement said the visit of the Kuwaiti foreign minister comes in the backdrop of the bilateral meeting held with Foreign Minister Qureshi on the sidelines of the 47th Session of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Niamey, Niger, in November 2020. The two foreign ministers agreed to work closely towards further strengthening and expanding bilateral cooperation in diverse fields.

To follow-up on the two Foreign Ministers’ understanding, Kuwait’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Asian Affairs visited Pakistan in January 2021 and held consultations in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development and Economic Affairs Division, as well as the Board of Investment.

During the visit, besides having wide-ranging talks with Foreign Minister Qureshi, the Kuwaiti foreign minister will call on other dignitaries.

“Pakistan accords high importance to its fraternal ties with Kuwait, which are firmly rooted in shared faith and values. The bilateral relationship is marked by high-level visits and growing cooperation across myriad fields. During the global pandemic, the two countries collaborated closely in the health sector and food security,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafiz Chaudhri said in the statement.

He said Pakistan acknowledged the positive role of the Kuwaiti leadership in building bridges among the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Pakistan also stands in solidarity with the State of Kuwait in the efforts to strengthen unity among Muslim countries.

The visit of the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister will provide further impetus to the positive momentum in bilateral exchanges and deepening mutual cooperation, he added.

 

This Women's Day we're honouring the strong women who are making our communities safer for everyone, especially women, to live and thrive in. One such icon is Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s first woman District Police Officer (DPO), Sonia Shamroz, who recently joined the Chitral police.

Growing up, her family made sure nothing was unachievable for Shamroz and her four sisters. Years later, that encouragement propelled Shamroz on her path to become the first woman DPO in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Women make up less than two percent of the overall police force in Pakistan with the percentage even lower in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. While this speaks volumes about Shamroz's determination, it also gives us an idea of the challenges she must have faced on her journey to the top.

Always fond of pursuing the road less travelled, Shamroz grew up in a family that had no members working for the government. Early on, she had the opportunity to study at Army Burn Hall College. “The discipline and the uniform then inspired me and became one of the reasons I appeared for the CSS exam,” she told Images.

Appearing for the exam and acing it was the easy part; it was the journey that came afterwards that was challenging. Shamroz was the first woman with a child and train to be a police officer but thanks to a supportive husband and in-laws, who took care of her daughter during her training, she was able to complete her training. Her first assignment was as an assistant superintendent of police in Mansehra, which was a huge learning opportunity for her.

“Initially people would be confused and sceptical to see a woman in the police but my efforts and work gave them confidence in me. In Mansehra, I visited crime scenes and we caught criminals, which really changed the way the public perceived women police officials.”

Shamroz has also served in Oghi and Abbottabad as well as being the principal of the Police Training School in Mansehra. She was then chosen as a Chevening Scholar to study Violence against Women and Conflict at York University in the United Kingdom.

She is one of several women police officers to take part in a training session on disaster response arranged by the United Nations Development Programme Pakistan Amn-o-Insaf Programme, which is actively working to increase women’s representation in law enforcement through advocacy, training and creating conducive and enabling environments for women officers to thrive.

Without her family’s support and these value adding experiences and training, Shamroz would not have come this far. She recently joined the Chitral Police as a DPO but what’s more remarkable is what she has been accomplishing ever since she took office.


According to her, Chitral has two major issues: the first is a high suicide rate with a majority of the victims being women. She feels that the women there feel suppressed, lack opportunities and have no one to complain to. A lot of young girls commit suicide especially when they are forced to marry someone they don’t want to or are facing domestic violence. Instead of seeking a solution, they end their lives. The second issue is the prevalence of ‘down district marriages’, in which men from lower districts and other provinces come to North Chitral and marry younger girls, often by paying off their parents.

To overcome these problems, Shamroz has operationalised three gender responsive desks (GRDs) at model police stations established by the UNDP’s Amn-o-Insaf Programme with support from European Union in Lower Chitral. She appointed women officials at these desks to encourage women to come and discuss their problems instead of committing suicide.

Shamroz also trained her staff on gender responsive policing to change the environment of police stations and encourage women to freely visit to report violations. Since operationalising these desks in January, over 100 cases have been successfully solved.

A social worker working in Lower Chitral, who chooses to remain anonymous, told Images that she was getting a lot of harassment calls from different numbers and couldn’t figure out what to do. “Finally I decided to get in touch with the newly set up women desk at the Chitral Police Station and DPO Sonia and officer Dilshad Pari investigated the matter. In a short time, they found the culprit and punished him.”

This is one of the many cases that have been solved at the Gender Responsive Desks in Lower Chitral but more importantly, these cases are strengthening women’s belief that they will get justice if they speak up. 

“It has only been two months of making these efforts and there has only been one case of suicide. My team has successfully saved a few cases from the site when some women were trying to jump in the river, counselled them and resolved the issue,” Shamroz told Images.

She believes that increasing women’s representation in law enforcement is crucial. Women make up almost half of Pakistan's population and in order to facilitate women complainants, more women must be included in the police force. “Currently, we don’t have enough women in the force to cater to women complainants and hear them out, let alone work towards solving their cases and challenges,” explained Shamroz.

She added that one of the most effective ways to increase women representation in law enforcement is to give them senior leadership roles, so young girls can look up to them, be inspired and follow the same route. “When I joined the force, I didn’t have many examples to look up to, but I hope the few of us who have got on this path can change that for the next generation.”

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Hassan Shoukry in Cairo. — Photo courtesy: FM Qureshi's Twitter

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Hassan Shoukry, on Wednesday agreed to strengthen ties between Pakistan and Egypt through increased cooperation in trade and other sectors, APP reported.

Both foreign ministers discussed matters of mutual interest in a meeting in Cairo, where Qureshi had arrived on Tuesday on a two-day visit.

Qureshi told Shoukry that Pakistan considered Egypt an important country of the Arab world, adding that both countries enjoyed "historic religious, cultural and brotherly relations", according to the APP.

He also informed Shoukry of Prime Minister Imran Khan's policy to enrich economic relations with African countries. Before leaving for Cairo on a two-day visit on Tuesday, Qureshi had said that Egypt was known as the "Africa's gateway".

During Wednesday's meeting, Shoukry also lauded Pakistan's efforts for peace in Afghanistan, while Qureshi told him about India's hostile activities against Pakistan which the latter said were a "danger for peace and stability of the region".

Qureshi thanked Shoukry for the warm welcome he received in Egypt. The foreign minister also extended an invitation to Shoukry to visit Pakistan, which the latter accepted.

In a tweet later, Qureshi said that it was a "pleasure" to meet Shoukry and added: "[I] look forward to hosting FM Shoukry in Pakistan".

 

"The relationship between Pakistan and Egypt is one of mutual trust and cooperation," Qureshi said in his tweet. "FM Shoukry and I discussed ways to grow our ties, with greater people to people contact, trade and sustained engagement."

FM Qureshi also met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi on Wednesday and discussed Pakistan’s shifting emphasis from geo-politics to geo-economics.

The foreign minister also met members of the Egyptian business community during his trip.

  • Pakistan will be the first country in the region to employ drone technology for the supervision of the highways.
  • The system will be in place in a couple of weeks, sources said.
  • The information gathered by the drones could be used in nabbing the criminals.

 


 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will be the first country in the region to employ drone technology for the supervision of the highways and motorways network, The News reported on Sunday.

According to the well-placed sources in the National Highways and Motorways Police, the system will be in place in a couple of weeks. 

The system would provide a record of round-the-clock movement on roads. It would not only help in controlling and managing the traffic volume across the motorways and highways for its smooth and safe flow, but also provide for effective and timely interception of crimes.

The information gathered by the drones could be used in nabbing criminals. The use of drone’s technology would be displayed towards the end of this month at few points on the motorways.

The project was discussed at the National Highways and Motorways Police (NHMP) headquarters on Friday under its Inspector General Dr Syed Kaleem Imam through a virtual conference attended by officers of the force from across the country. 

Five-year plan

The meeting also discussed a five-year plan for catering to future requirements and demands of the motorway police for its modernisation.

As per the details, the plan, like all other developed countries, would cater to all the new trends prevailing in movement on the roads helping Pakistan become a country with a model road network.

It will also identify the resources to be generated by the motorways and highways infrastructure. A proposal is under review for the introduction of variable speed limits for different vehicles on the motorways and highways. 

Speed limit

The existing speed limit could be enhanced in some sectors while a reduction of speed limit could also be imposed in some parts.

Read more: CJP blames 'rampant political interference' in policing for Lahore motorway case

The main theme of the project is to ensure trouble-free, faster but safe traffic movement. 

A system is also being introduced to only allow those vehicles to ply on the roads which are mechanically fit for commuting. As the result, any vehicle that isn’t suitable for traveling on motorways and highways would not be allowed on the roads.

The training and grooming of the force on modern lines is also part of the future project. The existing traffic laws and rules are also being examined for facilitating smooth and safe traffic.

A minor boy allegedly committed suicide late on Friday by hanging himself with a ceiling fan in his house in Kahna, police claimed. — AFP/File

LAHORE: A minor boy allegedly committed suicide late on Friday by hanging himself with a ceiling fan in his house in Kahna, police claimed.

Ramzan, 12, killed himself allegedly after his parents reprimanded him for regularly staying out of the house for hours.

A police official said the boy used to go out for hours to play with his friends without informing his parents. They would admonish him over this disobedience, he said.

He added that on the day of the incident, Ramzan was again beat up and admonished after he returned home after many hours. He took it to heart and took the extreme step, the official claimed. On being alerted, police reached the site and handed over the body to the family after legal formalities.

Found dead: A woman was found dead in her house under mysterious circumstances in Manawan area here on Friday. Police suspected that Rukhsana was found hanged from a ceiling fan at her Sharifpura residence.

A police official said she might have been stranguled over some motives which were yet to be ascertained and seized her body for postmortem. He said the deceased woman had contracted marriage by choice with Aziz Ilyas some nine months back.

Her parents were unhappy over her marriage and she was facing some life threats, the police official said adding her mysterious death alerted the police prompting it to investigate the incident as it was being suspected that Rukhsana’s brother may be behind her alleged murder.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday launched Pakistan's vaccination drive against the novel coronavirus. The jabs will initially be administered to health workers.

He urged people to strictly adhere to Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures SOPs to stop the virus spread.

After witnessing the administration of Covid-19 vaccine to health workers in Islamabad, the prime minister said in the first phase, health workers, who were on the front-line in the fight against coronavirus, as well as those of vulnerable age, would be vaccinated.

He appreciated China for providing 500,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to Pakistan, which he assured would be judiciously distributed across all the provinces.

Imran Khan urged health workers to get vaccinated as per international practice.

The PM added that though the coronavirus in Pakistan was subsiding with the grace of Allah, the people, however, should continue to take precautionary measures and follow SOPs, including the use of face masks.

We have already opened schools and will be opening the hostels as well. Coronavirus cases are on the decline. But we have to continue to follow the SOPs

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