[Mutation, vaccine] Expert answers all of your queries about COVID-19 second wave in Pakistan
Earlier this month, a group of researchers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recorded the first case of Covid-19 re-infection in the country.
- Pakistan is entering the second wave of Covid-19, which showcases a new virus strain.
- The virus has come back because people have become complacent and the cold weather is fostering the spread.
- A vaccine is not expected to arrive in Pakistan for distribution until mid of next year.
The second wave of coronavirus is intensifying in Pakistan. In light of increasing positive cases, the federal and provincial governments have amplified restrictions to control the infection’s spread. Smart lockdowns have been imposed, and educational institutes have been closed from the 26th of November.
Earlier this month, a group of researchers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recorded the first case of Covid-19 re-infection in the country. A pulmonologist said:
A new Covid-19 strain is seen in Pakistan, which does not show up in tests, is very severe, and lasts longer than in the previous wave.
Dawn.com sat down with Dr. Faisal Mahmood, head of infectious diseases at the Aga Khan University Hospital, to clarify questions about the new virus strain. Here are Dr. Mahmood’s answers to the questions Dawn.com asked:
Are we going through a second wave?
At this point, it seems that Pakistan is entering the second wave of Covid-19, as positive case rates have started to go up again. This wave will be slightly different as it is the winter season. An increase in the number of tests is expected as it will be difficult for people to differentiate between Covid-19 and normal respiratory tract infections otherwise.
The good news is that our hospitals have become better at treating Covid-19, and people are more aware. However, the bad news is that our hospitals are already full of non-Covid-19 patients. Previously, our healthcare system had almost ground to a halt while dealing with Covid-19 treatment. Only time will tell how the second wave turns out.
How are patients different this time compared to the previous wave?
Patients are almost the same as last time. The majority of coronavirus patients comprise the elderly and people with other medical problems. However, people from other age ranges are also seen contracting the virus. Regardless, we do not feel the virus has mutated or changed; the virus’ behavior is similar.
Why did this virus come back?
Many reasons explain why the virus is spreading exponentially:
- Respiratory tract viruses spread more efficiently when the weather gets colder.
- People have become very complacent – mask-wearing is at an all-time low, people are now gathering in weddings and other public places, which helps this virus spread.
- The virus is gaining a foothold.
Is it necessary to quarantine if you have mild symptoms?
It’s better to get tested and go into isolation when people experience symptoms because it is hard to tell the difference between a normal cough (the common cold virus) and the Covid-19 virus. If you experience fever, body aches, cough, loss of smell, and loss of taste, then get yourself tested and go into isolation until your results come.
Have there been cases of re-infection?
Unfortunately, several patients who had Covid-19 in the previous wave have gotten infected again and showcase a very high virus level. This data is a good warning for all. People who have been infected in the past must also take precautions because it is hard to say whether they will contract the virus again.
How soon can we expect a vaccine?
Pakistan is currently undergoing one vaccine trial; more trials are expected to come. However, even after knowing the vaccine trial’s success, we [still] do not expect the vaccine to come to Pakistan for distribution until mid of next year.
Concluding the discussion with Dawn.com, Dr. Mahmood said:
I want to emphasize that we need to follow precautions until a vaccine arrives. Even once a vaccine comes, it will not alone be enough to halt the virus, and we will still need to take some precautions to stop the spread of the virus.
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