Covid-19 Pandemic & US as a Global power: A Critical Assessment From Pakistan’s Perspective
September 06, 2021 | Dr Tayyab Saeed Akhtar

Covid-19 Pandemic & US as a Global power: A Critical Assessment From Pakistan’s Perspective

2020 & 2021 will be remembered as era of COVID and have lead the globe to look at life from a totally different perspective. It has not only unveiled the weaknesses of our social norms on one hand but has also exposed the self-proclaimed powers of the world. This calamity is an eye opener for the whole world, so that we can reassess our economic and health strategies. Each and every country is affected in one way or the other. The low income and under developed countries has to struggle more and it is important how they look upon the economic powers of the world during the tough times.  Pakistan has also been significantly affected with COVID, with to date, more than a million people have been affected and about 25 thousand died of this deadly disease.

Let me start from mid of June, 2020. When I was serving as first line at RIUT a purpose built, only temporary COVID facility for Rawalpindi city. I was on night duty as In-charge on floor and our inflow of patients had increased to such a level that I came to know that all the beds and ventilators have become saturated around 1:00 am and we were left with only one bad when I received 2 patients together. It could be the worst situation for a physician as I had to decide between the two patients and to decline the other. The whole night I was praying not to have any more calls and was thinking of the Italy scenario that we were witnessing on the electronic and social media.

 Being part of a digital organization, foreseeing a worst situation in my country, I decided to play our role and we launched a campaign with the name “Home Hospital Care”. Our vision was to reduce the load from hospital of the mild to moderate severity patients and manage them at home through telemedicine. Shifa4u got a great response from volunteer doctors within and outside the country. We trained >50 doctors to work through telemedicine using our system. We took lab, drugs and oxygen venders on board, as our system is a 360’ solution so we already had a build in system for that. Expats for UK and USA provided their consultations and we helped >3000 patients of mild to moderate severity as well as other disorders at their door step. With the grace of Allah almighty the peak also declaimed luckily after that and we were saved.

Bottom line point is that when that is a disaster it is a universal responsibility of every one to take part and contribute in whatever way he or she can. And in the larger canvas the same idea applies to the nations. Covid 19 was a global crisis and all the nations were supposed to work together in a coordinative fashion and United States being the Global power must be leading from the front. Not only from their gesture but from their practical work they should have shown the whole world that they are leading in this cold war against COVID-19. Unfortunately, this response was very haphazard generating a big vacuum for other nations to fill the leader ship gap.

Likewise, around the globe, COVID-19 affected thousands of health care professions in Pakistan. More than 200 precious lives were lost while serving the humanity, fighting as first line warrior against this deadly virus.  This war is still on; the best protection is vaccination. This fact was established from the very outset.

We are fighting with the fourth wave. Still I see patients in my daily practice amongst which every third patient is a COVID suspect. Excess deaths due to COVID-19 increased in the last week on average from 280 to 350 per day. This makes COVID-19 the number 3 cause of death in Pakistan on mid of this month. Estimated excess daily deaths due to COVID19 were 4.1 times larger than the reported number of deaths.

 But my anxiety and fear is far less than the first 2 waves. Reason is I have been completely vaccinated. My parents have been completely vaccinated. And I was amongst the first few to be vaccinated. That vaccine was provided by china not USA, and we don’t have any other options for a long time. Availability of Pfizer & Moderna lacked months behind Sinopharma, CanSino, CornaVac and AstraZenaca Vaccinations.

Statistical data is showing a significant protection from COVID including variants after complete vaccination of two doses. To-date about 13.5 million people in Pakistan have been fully vaccinated, hardly saving 10% of the population so far. The prediction models suggest an estimated proportion of the adult (18+) population that has been vaccinated or would probably or definitely receive the COVID-19 vaccine if available might reach up to 70%. Hence, a lot more is required from international community. COVAX was the scheme launched last year to ensure the availability of Covid vaccines around the world, with richer countries subsidizing costs for poorer nations. Still, COVAX is struggling to get enough doses to reach its vaccination goals. According to July 15 calculations by Doctors Without Borders, Pfizer has allocated only 11% of its vaccine deliveries to date to low- and middle-income countries directly or through COVAX, and Moderna has allocated only 0.3%. China is not only far ahead in providing the vaccination doses but also has helped in capacity building by enabling Pakistan manufacture its own vaccination with the name PakVac.

China has also provided aid to Italy with great fanfare and has also provided medical care to several continuous in Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America. Many countries have appealed china for help instead of USA.

This is also an open fact that US has little aid to provide as it was facing internal shortage of vital medical supplies.  The wave is still on US can still play its key role but for that US has to:

1. Reunite the international community

2. Provide assistance wherever possible

3. Show solidarity with allies

4. Lead from the front in the global economic response

5. Ensure trust worthy information  

6. Plan to combat any future COVID like calamities

Because in a pandemic the things have to be about “We” not “I”. 

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Dr Tayyab Saeed Akhtar

Consultant Medical Specialist, Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist. Chief Medical Officer at Shifa4U