Pakistan Academy Of Sciences Organized A Workshop On Pandemic

According To Chief Organizer Of Workshop, It Was Hybrid Workshop Both Physical And Virtual. Speakers From Ten Countries Participated.

According To Prof. Zabta Shinwari Chief Organizer Of The Workshop, It Was A Hybrid Workshop Both Physical And Virtual. Speakers From Ten Countries Participated. Prof. Khalid Mahmood Khan President Pakistan Academy of Sciences appreciated efforts of Association of Academy of Sciences of Asia (AASSA) for supporting Pakistan Academy for organizing this important event. Pakistan as responsible nation is doing all that is possible to prevent spread of this deadly virus.

Prof. Yoo Hang Kim (President AASSA) from Korea reiterated his support to Pakistan Academy of Sciences for holding such event and containing corona virus and Pakistan is mentioned as a success story in the world for reducing the deadly effect as compared to its neighboring countries. Prof. Dato Dr. Khairul Anuar Bin Abdullah highlighted issues related to vaccine and its equitable access by all including the least developed countries.

Prof. Tasawar Hayat Secretary General Pakistan Academy of Sciences thanked all the speakers and participants for their input and announced that PAS will publish a special issue on the proceedings of current workshop and a policy document as to how to respond to avoid any such pandemic in future. Different countries shared their experiences on covid-19. Turkish speaker focused on “The Role of Social Finance in Achieving the Objectives of Sustainable Development Goals”.  From Nepal “Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Women in Nepal: A Glimpse”. Other issues discussed included:

  • COVID-19 pandemic and other co-epidemics: a challenge for the overburdened healthcare system in developing countries
  • COVID-19 pandemic as a test case in the anthropocene epoch; the interplay of environment, ethics, and psychology on the global stage
  • Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Survival Analysis for Covid-19
  • Development of an Assessment Method for Investigating the Impact of Climate of Lahore on Confirmed Cases of COVID-19

The speakers stressed on “Building the Global Vaccine Manufacturing capacity needed to Respond to Pandemics”. While giving remarks Prof. Zabta Shinwari chief organizer of the workshop suggested to:

  1. COVID-19: Psychological burdens, Pandemic to Infodemic: People must rely on authentic data, the news spread through social media platforms often masks the original news/statistics. Team of social media experts linked to the official sources can be helpful in diffusing correct information across the social media platforms
  2.  Countering counterfeit medical products: Counterfeit medical products deny patients proper medical treatment and are harmful to their health. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically exacerbated this phenomenon.
  3. Misuse of information from azithromycin, oseltamivir; hydroxychloroquine; Remdesivir; Dexamethasone, Vitamin D (BAME Com.) led to black marketing, and counterfeit drugs
  4. Incomplete information about herbal medicine in several countries caused damage to human life. For example: Herbal drug from Artemisia annua (Madagascar); Licoryce (China); Cassia angustifolia-Sanna Makki (Pakistan); ashwagandha, guduchi, mulethi; Basil (tulsi) leaves, cinnamon bark, sunthi (Zingiber officinale) and krishna marich (Piper nigrum)  (India)”.

Minister S & T Mr. Shibli Faraz appreciated the efforts for timely taking up this important issue of Pandemics. Among the most pressing issues in preparing for the global response to a pandemic are the design, development, manufacture, and dissemination of vaccines. The response to this pandemic has shown that when leading vaccine manufacturers are fully engaged in a global response, it might be possible for them to manufacture substantial doses of vaccine on timelines faster than previously envisioned.

It is heartening to note that even Africa has planned to enhance their vaccine production capacity from 1% to 60 % by 2040. I assure you that my ministry will welcome any such effort in Pakistan. I am sure that through events like this we will learn an enormous amount from the policies, technologies, and financing strategies used to have better diagnostic techniques and produce COVID-19 vaccines. These lessons will be critical to inform emergency global vaccine manufacturing; diagnosis and therapeutics efforts in the future.

We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic,” rightly said World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General. Responding to the overabundance of information that makes it difficult for people to identify truthful and trustworthy sources from false or misleading ones. I will urge the scientists in general and Pakistan Academy of Sciences in particular to analyse key narratives that have developed and places these narratives in a broader historical context of disinformation campaigns related to public health and global health security.

Battles of influence will escalate in the future. As the lines between reality and deception become blurred, the potential for large-scale mobilization of people and resources around false narratives in a pandemic, and other crises, creates significant global risks.

In Pakistan, we also experimented like other countries. But our challenges were different as compared to the developed world. On one hand we had to control the pandemic and on other we could not afford shutting the country down and leaving people to die of hunger. Hence, we did it what was called “Smart lockdown”, lockdown in areas where the cases were reported. I also appreciate different segments of the society like religious leaders, academia and philanthropists for helping us to cater the situation. Internationally too, our efforts and policies were appreciated. I will also encourage traditional healers to come forward and play their role in treating the ailing communities from pandemics.

Far-reaching ethical questions can be asked about the continuation of human actions that not only cause such pandemics because of biodiversity loss, food habits and climate change, but also contribute to its intensification and acceleration. The ethical stakes surrounding climate change cannot be avoided or reduced.

Prof. Zabta Khan Shinwari comments about future were:

What emerges next will partly depend on the ongoing evolution of SARS-CoV-2, on the behaviour of citizens, on governments’ decisions about how to respond to the pandemic, on progress in vaccine development and treatments and also in a broader range of disciplines in the sciences and humanities that focus both on bringing this pandemic to an end and learning how to reduce the impacts of future zoonoses, and on the extent to which the international community can stand together in its efforts to control COVID-19.

Many factors will determine the overall outcome of the pandemic. A nationalistic rather than global approach to vaccine delivery is not only morally wrong but will also delay any return to a level of “normality” (including relaxed border controls) because no country can be safe until all countries are safe.

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