Pakistan Records Highest Death Toll Since May Due To Coronavirus

As per data released by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), no less than 141 people lost their lives due to the deadly coronavirus. More than 4,199 people contracted the disease as well, in the last 24 hours alone. The death toll recorded has been the highest since the 3rd of May, when 161 patients died after battling the virus. 

The data further indicated that the total number of active cases in the country is currently 91,204. This number was recorded on the 25th of August, as reported a day later. 503 patients are on ventilators. 

In addition, a senior official belonging to the Ministry of National Health Services stated that Tocilizumab, sold as Actemra, was initially being prescribed to critically ill patients. However, medicine is now short across the world.

He added that the country had been unable to acquire 1,000 vials of Actemra. The company was also unsuccessful in arranging the injection. According to the senior official, the health system in Pakistan has no option but to opt for alternatives with the same characteristics as Actemra. But he did warn that these other medicines have not been approved by the Drug and Regulation Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) to be administered to patients of the coronavirus. 

When further questioned, the official revealed that some countries across the globe were also using alternatives. Therefore, he remarked that Pakistan could start doing the same. 

In addition, a pharmacist discussed that Actemra comprises monoclonal antibodies and helps lock down the immune system. These antibodies are proteins made in the laboratory, which mimic the ability of the immune system to fight harmful antigens, like infections and viruses. 

He went on to explain how the coronavirus is responsible for making the immune system hyperactive and weak enough to not be able to prevent when human cells are killed. He claimed that medicines like Actemra, lock down the immune system and ensure that the virus is unable to kill the cells. But this process could be potentially dangerous because once the immune system is halted, the patient could easily contract another disease. The pharmacist revealed that the injection has a couple of side effects and therefore, could end up causing more harm than good. 

Moreover, he named some other medicines with monoclonal antibodies, which work the same way as Actemra and are instrumental in locking the immune system. Currently, the injection is priced at a figure of Rs. 55,000 but can be found for Rs. 40,000 on the black market. Some experts believe that is most unfortunate that private and public hospitals are suggesting that Actemra be administered to patients, despite its potential side effects. 

In other news, Saudi Arabia has added Sinovac and Sinopharm to the list of vaccines that it has approved. Now the number of vaccines acceptable in the kingdom is currently six. Earlier, it was only accepting entry of individuals who had been vaccinated with AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer.