As the fifth wave of the pandemic continues to spread rapidly across Pakistan with the highest national positivity rate of 3.16%, a tremendous milestone has been achieved as over 100 million people have now been administered at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Of these, around 75 million — or 33% of the population — has been fully vaccinated. What seemed as arduous and impossible task has been carried out fairly smoothly by the government.
The NCOC’s recent statement that work is still not complete and that the momentum needs to keep on going is more than reassuring considering the rise of the new Omicron variant. Even though experts are now starting to claim that the spread of the highly transmittable Omicron variant is pushing Covid-19 towards becoming an endemic disease that humanity can live with, the overall risk as of now remains high since we are knee deep in the fifth wave. The positivity rate in Karachi is the highest ever, touching around 15% while the situation in other countries such as Mirpur and Lahore are also starting to worsen. However, the 7 deaths reported out of 1,572 cases in a span of 24 hours indicates that the Delta strain might still be active in some parts of the country. Moreover, the rise in cases of flu and the common cold during the winters will make it difficult for citizens to differentiate between that and Covid-19, which could skew the positivity percentage as less people would opt to get tested. Therefore, authorities as well as citizens need to be vigilant. We are already hearing from scientists that an amalgamation of Delta and Omicron could lead to the rise of yet another mutated variant.
The main focus should now be to urge the remaining 25 million to get their second dose and those eligible out of the inoculated 75 million to get their booster shot at the earliest. The one thing that is still lacking is a special vaccine service for critically-ill or bed-ridden patients.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2022.
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