Pakistan likely to be first to complete research in immunoglobulin therapy to treat COVID-19 

Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) researchers work on an intravenous immunoglobulin (C-IVIG) therapy project in Karachi, Pakistan, on December 11, 2020. (AN photo)
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Updated 02 March 2021
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Pakistan likely to be first to complete research in immunoglobulin therapy to treat COVID-19 

  • Scientists at Karachi’s Dow University of Health Sciences say ‘severe’ patients who had received the treatment had a 100 percent recovery rate
  • In critical patients the recovery ratio was 50 to 60 percent, number of hospitalization days reduced to 6.5 from up to 25

KARACHI: Scientists at Karachi’s Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) who are conducting clinical trials of intravenous immunoglobulin (C-IVIG) therapy for the treatment coronavirus, say Pakistan is likely to become the first country to complete the research needed to introduce the treatment at a mass level, saying ‘severe’ patients who had received the product had a 100 percent recovery rate.
The therapy uses immunoglobulin (IG), a blood product extracted from the plasma of people who have recovered from infection, and which is rich in the antibodies that target the virus. Continuous infusion of immunoglobin can neutralize the infection in patients and shorten the course of the disease, Pakistani scientists say.
In June, DUHS trials started on 30 participants, most from the high-risk group of people above the age of 60, with many suffering from diabetes, hypertension and other comorbidities.
“The trials are very encouraging and remarkable,” Dr. Shaukat Ali, head of biotechnology at DUHS and lead on the C-IVIG project, told Arab News. “At the moment, what we have seen is that all severe patients who received C-IVIG treatment had 100 percent recovery ratio while in critical patients the recovery ratio was 50 to 60 percent.”
Besides the high recovery rate, Ali said, the DUHS team had observed that the treatment had significantly reduced the period of hospitalization.
“The results show that the number of hospitalization days were reduced to six and a half days for severe patients, which is very encouraging because normally a severe patient would occupy hospital resources for 20 to 25 days.”




Dr. Shaukat Ali, head of biotechnology at Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), speaks to Arab News at his office in Karachi, Pakistan, on December 11, 2020. (AN photo)

Ali said Pakistan was the first country to develop the immunoglobulin solution in April 2020.
“Only a week ago, an announcement was made by a global plasma alliance of big companies of blood producers, including Takeda Pharmaceutical, to work on the project,” Ali added, referring to the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance.
Global pharmaceutical giants — Takeda Pharmaceutical of Japan, CSL Limited of Australia, German Biotest AG and private companies from France, Switzerland and United Kingdom — announced research on plasma-based treatment for COVID-19 in early April, but the projects had been delayed several times.
In Pakistan, clinical research started in June, after a series of regulatory approvals. The experiment was also registered with the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health in the United States, which maintains the biggest global registry of clinical trials.
“Pakistan is the first country in the world which has accomplished the experiment and announced it. There are two clinical trials going on which were registered after us; one is carried out by National Institutes of Health in the US and another one in Israel, both were registered after us,” Ali said.

The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) authorized clinical trials for critically ill COVID-19 patients in mid-April. In the same month, DUHS purified immunoglobulin from the plasma of COVID-19 patients and prepared IVIG formulation to treat severe and critical virus cases.
To seek more plasma donors, DUHS scientists announced the outcome of their trials on November 21, ahead of their scheduled completion in January 2021.
“With the onset of winter, hospitals are full with patients and we want to alert the authorities that we have the solution that we have developed indigenously and to motivate general public to donate plasma,” Ali added.
The announcement was met with substantial public response.
“We are getting plasma from donors and proceeding faster now. We will complete the trial within a month and go for next phase which will be multicentric, where we will add more people across the country at different centers.”


On Eid, Karachi’s Civil Lines neighborhood becomes hotspot for ‘premium’ animals 

Updated 5 sec ago
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On Eid, Karachi’s Civil Lines neighborhood becomes hotspot for ‘premium’ animals 

  • After months of record inflation, many Pakistanis will be struggling to afford animals at prices starting from around $350
  • But expensive animals whose price can go beyond $10,000 are the ultimate symbol of social prestige and generosity 

KARACHI: For most of the year, Karachi’s Civil Lines neighborhood remains serene, a peaceful urban retreat of high-rise residential apartments and markets. 

But as Eid Al-Adha approaches, the quiet streets start bustling with activity as makeshift stalls and tents pop up, each equipped with soft bedding, special lights and fans in the service of special guests – expensive or ‘premium’ sacrificial animals. 

The prized animals, whose price can range between $3,000 and $11,000, are mostly raised on cattle farms outside the city, and moved to the Civil Lines neighborhood in the weeks ahead of Eid, giving the area a festival-like atmosphere.

Many people in Pakistan like to buy expensive sacrificial animals on Eid, as purchasing larger or more premium animals is seen as a mark of prestige and generosity. The preference for costly animals is also influenced by the desire to fulfill the religious obligation with the best possible offering.

“There is no price for passion,” Muhammad Mustafa, a student at the Institute of Business Administration whose family is associated with the cattle business, told Arab News.

“Everyone performs this [ritual] according to their budget in my opinion, so the prices of animals in our area can go above Rs2 million [$7,180] or Rs3 million [$10,770].”

These prices are sharp for Pakistan, where after months of record inflation, many will be struggling to afford even regular sheep at prices starting from around $350. But the expensive animals are also the ultimate symbol of social prestige in a country where the GDP per capita does not exceed $1,600.

“FUNFAIR”

Karachi, a city of over 20 million people, hosts the country’s largest cattle market on its outskirts, where animals from across Pakistan are put up for sale, as well as 21 other smaller bazaars.

However, what sets Civil Lines apart from other neighborhoods is not just the availability of expensive animals but also the large number of people who raise high-value breeds on farmhouses.

Mustafa is one of those who strikes deals with cattle farmers in advance, providing them with a calf, which is raised for a year or two until it becomes eligible for sacrifice, a determination based on the count of its teeth— two or more.

“It has four teeth, so we raised it for almost two years. It grabs its proper strength, catches its life, catches its round shape, so it feels attached to the heart, so we people sacrifice it,” he said as he gestured toward his cow that neighbors and friends had come to call “Black Beauty” and which is valued at Rs1 million ($3,588).

Connoisseurs also hire caretakers to look after the animals and provide them with customized and specially prepared feed and shelter in waterproof tents equipped with fans, cushioning and special lighting. 

Various local and international breeds of animals can be found in Civil Lines, including Sahiwal, Australian and Sibi breeds, with visitors stopping to take selfies with the beautiful cows and goats. 

“It’s about half-past midnight, and people here descend with their families after 10 o’clock and also serve their animals,” said Maaz Liaquat Abdullah, who works in the construction business. “The whole place becomes a funfair,.”

Abdul Rauf Shivani, a banker, attributed the popularity of high-priced animals in Civil Lines to the community’s “deep pockets.”

“What people do is basically they try to bring in the animals for sacrifice and they also try to give comfort to animals and make sure that they are actually in a very safe area,” Shivani added.

And while adults in the area typically buy expensive cows, children often opt to raise goats. 

One such kid was Mohammad Yahya, 6, who said he had raised his male goat at a farmhouse in Mirpur Khas in Sindh and affectionately called him Chanchanu.

“He runs very fast, he doesn’t come under control,” Yahya said as he placed some grass in front of his goat.

Around him, children led their animals along the streets.

“Most of the population living here is from the Memon community,” said Abdullah, the construction business professional, “who have the love for animals in their genes, especially the love for sacrificial animals.”


Under-fire Babar Azam says PCB to take final decision on Pakistan captaincy 

Updated 18 June 2024
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Under-fire Babar Azam says PCB to take final decision on Pakistan captaincy 

  • Cricket analysts have called upon Azam to resign following Pakistan’s poor performance at World Cup
  • Pakistan failed to qualify for second round of T20 World Cup after losing to United States, arch-rivals India

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s under-fire skipper Babar Azam said this week that it was ultimately up to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to decide whether he should continue as the national squad’s captain or not, following his team’s dismal performance in the ongoing T20 World Cup. 

Cricket analysts and commentators have called on Azam to step down as skipper after Pakistan failed to qualify for the second round of the T20 World Cup 2024. 

The green shirts crashed out of the World Cup after consecutive losses to minnows United States and arch-rivals India. The United States and India ultimately ended up qualifying for the Super Eight stage of the tournament from Group A, with Pakistan notching victories only against Canada and Ireland. 

Speaking to reporters at a news conference on Monday, Azam said the PCB decided to appoint him captain after pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi’s brief stint as skipper ended this year. 

“When I go back, we will discuss all that has happened here. And if I have to leave the captaincy, I will announce it openly,” he said.

“I will not hide behind anything. Whatever happens will happen in the open. But for now, I have not thought about it. It is eventually PCB’s decision.”

Cricket commentators have blamed Azam for Pakistan’s failure to perform impressively at the mega tournament. Many have questioned his captaincy decisions while most have criticized him for choosing underperforming stars in the playing XI. 

“We win and lose as a team. You are pointing out that [I am] the captain, but I cannot play in every player’s place. There are 11 players, and each of them has a role,” Azam explained.

“That’s why they came here to play the World Cup. I think we have not been able to play well as a team. We have to settle down and accept that we didn’t play well as a team,” he added. 

Azam admitted that though the team performed well in patches, fans were right to be disappointed with them. 

“Everybody is disappointed. We are as disappointed as the fans. It is not one individual’s fault,” he said. 


Sacrifice of animals, festivities continue as Pakistan marks second day of Eid Al-Adha

Updated 18 June 2024
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Sacrifice of animals, festivities continue as Pakistan marks second day of Eid Al-Adha

  • People continue to visit relatives on second day of Eid as picnic spots see rush, says state media 
  • Pakistan’s prime minister exchanges Eid greetings with Kuwaiti counterpart, Kazakhstan president

ISLAMABAD: Muslims in Pakistan and other parts of the world on Tuesday continued sacrificing animals and taking part in festivities on the second day of Eid Al-Adha in their respective countries. 

One of the most important Islamic holidays, Eid Al-Adha is a joyous occasion on which food is a hallmark and during which devout Muslims buy and slaughter animals and share the meat with family, friends and the poor. The revered observance coincides with the final rites of the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Pakistani Muslims celebrated the beginning of the Muslim festival on Monday with food and prayers for the people of Gaza and Kashmir. 

“Festivities and sacrifice of animals are continuing on the second day of Eid-Al-Adha today [Tuesday],” state broadcaster Radio Pakistan reported. 

“People will also continue to visit relatives and friends to celebrate Eid festivities and picnic spots are also witnessing unusual rush.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday exchanged Eid greetings with his counterpart from Kuwait, Sheikh Ahmad Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, and Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement. 

“The leaders also exchanged views on enhancing bilateral cooperation in various fields, including trade, investment, energy, and export of skilled labor,” the PMO said about Sharif’s call with Al-Sabah. 

“They also discussed regional and global issues of mutual interest, reaffirming their commitment to working closely together for the advancement of shared goals and objectives.”

The Pakistan government has announced a three-day holiday for Eid, from Monday to Wednesday.

According to tanners associations, over six million animals valued at approximately Rs531 billion ($1.9 billion) were sacrificed during the three-day Eid festival in 2023. As many, if not more, animals are expected to be sacrificed this year.


Pakistani retiree sacrifices money for divine reward with free slaughtering services on Eid

Updated 18 June 2024
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Pakistani retiree sacrifices money for divine reward with free slaughtering services on Eid

  • Professional butchers can charge anything from $70-140 to slaughter goats, cows and camels on Eid Al-Adha
  • Wajid Farid slaughters animals on Eid pro bono, asks people to donate his fees to mosques or the poor

KARACHI: For 65-year-old retired government employee Wajid Farid, the Eid holiday is all about the spirit of giving.

While professional butchers can charge anything from $70-140 to slaughter an animal, Farid offers the service for free on the Muslim festival of Eid Al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, traditionally marked by the slaughter of animals, whose meat is shared with family members, friends and the poor.

“It’s been 18 years since I started this job of butchering out of passion,” Farid told Arab News as he cooked food at a small eatery he runs in the Gazdarabad neighborhood near Karachi’s famous M.A. Jinnah Road.

“I don’t take any money from anyone for this and ask them to give this money either to a mosque or to a deserving person in charity.”

Farid’s services are mostly sought by his friends and relatives, but he never hesitates to slaughter the animals of strangers who come to seek his help as Karachi faces a dearth of skilled butchers amid high demand during Eid.

“I am very thankful to Allah that despite my age I am doing this,” he said, crediting the blessings in his life to the mantra of giving rather than getting. “Allah has given me so much courage and strength. I don’t have any kind of illness, nor do my children and wife have any illnesses.”

Farid’s friends and family say they are proud of his charity.

“This is a good deed,” Muhammad Jalal, Farid’s childhood friend, said. “He has been doing this for a long time and he does not take any money from those who avail his services but asks them to donate it to deserving people by paying for their rations, rent, or electricity bills.”


Pakistani flick ‘Na Baligh Afraad’ channels ‘90s nostalgia for laughs this Eid 

Updated 39 min 31 sec ago
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Pakistani flick ‘Na Baligh Afraad’ channels ‘90s nostalgia for laughs this Eid 

  • Set in the ‘90s, film revolves around two naive brothers who get entangled in hilarious misadventures
  • Directed by critically acclaimed Nabeel Qureshi, film stars breakout actors Aashir Wajahat, Samar Jafri

KARACHI: Pakistani movie buffs are in for some laughs, hilarious plot twists and ‘90s nostalgia this Eid Al-Adha, with the release of the latest Pakistani film ‘Na Baligh Afraad’ over the religious holiday.

The comedy flick takes viewers to the streets of ‘90s Karachi and the lives of two teenage brothers, Mazhar and Fakhar, whose innocence gets them entangled in a series of misadventures that give birth to a comedy of errors. 

Acclaimed director Nabeel Qureshi directed the movie which is produced by Fizza Ali Meerza and stars singers and actors Aashir Wajahat and Samir Jafri in the lead roles alongside Rimha Ahmad, Mohammed Ehteshamuddin, Faiza Hasan, Saleem Mairaj and Irfan Motiwala. 

The title of the film is inspired by Qureshi’s 2014 hit ‘Na Maloom Afraad.’ 

“We grew up in the 90s so it has a lot of nostalgia [for us],” Qureshi told Arab News at the premiere of the film. “I always wanted to do something which is related to the 90s.”

Wajahat, who plays the role of Mazhar, declined to reveal too many details of the plot but promised that audiences would get to see the brothers entangled in a hilarious web of problems.

“I think the film offers a lot of comedy, a lot of entertainment, and a lot of fun,” Wajahat told Arab News. “Just a quarter to two hours of good entertainment.”

Jafri, who plays Fakhar in the film, said the film was not just for kids or teenagers. 

“Everybody can watch it because it’s a family movie,” Jafri told Arab News. “It has comedy, it has thriller, it has romance, it has bromance.”

But for an actor who did not grow up in the ‘90s, was it difficult to play a character set in that era?

“I learned things from my director, he taught me a lot on the set,” Jafri revealed. “And of course, when you are doing a character, you study it. I watched a few old movies [such as] ‘Andaaz Apna Apna’,” he said, referring to a 1994 Bollywood cult classic that starred Indian A-listers Salman Khan and Aamir Khan as two gold diggers who attempt to woo an heiress to get access to her father’s wealth.

“I think given the timing, this film will maybe give a lot of courage and inspiration to people and newcomers to do something,” Qureshi said about his expectations for the film. “And I think because the storyline is very different, so maybe things will be a bit better [for the movie.]”