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Blood plasma as an antidote?

Faran Khalid

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During the Spanish Flu in 1918, The medical researchers published many reports illustrating how transmissions of blood plasma cells obtained from any infectious disease survivors may have contributed a 70% rebate in death amid rigorously ill patients. Moreover, in 1934, a measles outbreak occurred – Measles is a contagious infectious disease caused by the measles virus. Followed by widespread vaccination, the invention, and licensure of the measles vaccine was developed officially in 1963. However, before the vaccine, doctors and medical researchers used the serum and in simple words, plasma immunization to treat 62 students at Pennsylvania boarding school. Only 3 out of 62 students diagnosed with the measles virus and all were mild cases.

Furthermore, Convalescent Plasma was used to treat patients during Ebola and swine flu outbreaks. Treatment with plasma-derived therapy from patients who recovered from the infectious viruses from Ebola and Swine flu played a crucial role to treat severe cases during that period.

However, as the cases of Covid-19 are soaring swiftly, the world is in a state of shock. There is no uncertainty regarding the extremity of the pandemic. However, the epicenter of the epidemic, the Chinese city of Wuhan, is now free of infected patients with recovering up to 70 per cent out of 80,000 patients. Accordingly, China has set its first foot in curing the populace with plasma cell immunization; they have got approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Chinese doctors endeavored the first COVID-19 treatments using “convalescent serum” known as donated plasma from survivors of the Coronavirus. Health officials in China also urged patients who have newly recovered from COVID-19 to donate blood so that plasma cells can be extricated to treat severe cases.

The head of the World Health Organization emergency program (WHO) has recently stated, as medical researchers are struggling to invent a vaccine for COVID – 19, Convalescent Plasma would be a great idea and essential to pursue this old but yet effective way to treat coronavirus patients. We need a vital push to treat severe cases by plasma cell immunization. Moreover, infectious patients who have recovered from a disease create permanent antibodies generated by their immune system floating in blood plasma. For converting plasma into an effective drug, the plasma is collected from patients’ blood (who are newly recovered), tested for sanctuary, and filtered to isolate those protecting antibodies. When we inject to new patients – Plasma Cells which is also known as Convalescent Plasma although plasma immunization also has a history and this is not a new theory to medical literature.

However, there are some challenges and essential questions to concur with: 1) Can plasma help to treat sick patients who already got infected with COVID-19? Theuse of convalescent plasma has been used in outbreaks of other pandemics such as H1N1, Ebola and also in SARS before vaccine out, as there is no vaccine out for Coronavirus to treat patients and FDA also approved the use of plasma from newly recovered patients to treat severe cases infected by a coronavirus. 2) Is plasma cell immunization is being used in China?Chinese doctors have started attempting plasma immunization after the first COVID-19 treatment using the convalescent serum, and now China sent tons of plasma to Italy to control the situation.3)Are there any side-effects for the donors? Convalescent plasma is safe, while it will be screened for pathogens and blood typed, so you don’t have a transfusion reaction.4) Will that require more clinical trials?Patients have to participate in more clinical trials to obtain access to convalescent plasma, while this would not be available for all patients in potential need. While clinical trials will be conducted, As FDA stated that convalescent plasma use in patients with some severe or immediately life-threatening symptoms.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the global mortality toll from the pandemic has spanned 22,340 with more than 503,219 cases confirmed worldwide and millions vulnerable. At the time of writing, United States has recorded 85,612 cases with 1301 deaths; the staggering rise in the circumstances of the superpower is not only troubling for the resource-less and developing countries, but it is an initiation of a catastrophe.

Pakistan has recorded up to 1200 cases with nine deaths. In Pakistan, streets, parks, and shops are deserted, millions are indoors after the lockdown and curfew imposed by the government to mitigate the coronavirus threat.

Medical researchers are still finding from where it was first originated to make patterns to invent a vaccine to cure coronavirus patients although making a vaccine in months isn’t easy, china is, now, using natural defense mechanisms which is plasma cell immunization to treat severe coronavirus cases. Pakistan government officials should also seek help from Chinese health officials regarding plasma cell immunization as china did this procedure many times to handle severe cases through this natural defense mechanism back during the SARS outbreak.

Pakistan’s government should take every health official onboard and make arrangements to start trials for patients with severe conditions as the human body’s first line of defense against any infectious disease is an antibody called immunoglobulin. However, New York’s best health agencies are working on this and health researchers are hopeful.

Faran Manj from Faisalabad, Pakistan. A researcher and social media activist, currently studying bachelors of legislative law. I have done several projects on current affairs for my university's journal

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New Social Compact

The Need for Humanitarian Leadership and Global Solidarity during COVID-19

Dr.Anis Ben Brik

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The coronavirus pandemic is a systemic human development crisis, affecting individuals and societies in unprecedented ways. It is also generating new humanitarian needs.

According to UN estimates, half a billion people, or 8% of the world’s population, could be pushed into destitution by the year’s end, largely due to the pandemic. If so, then the fight against poverty would be set back 30 years. The International Rescue Committee said last week that the virus could cause 1bn infections and 3.2m deaths in 34 fragile states, including Afghanistan and Syria.

The fourth annual Global Report on Food Crises highlights Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Nigeria and Haiti among the countries most at risk of widespread famines caused by the coronavirus pandemic. According to World Food Programme estimates, the number suffering from hunger could rise from 135 million to more than 250 million.

The International Labour Organization reported last week that almost 1.6 billion informal economy workers (representing the most vulnerable in the labor market)out of a worldwide 2 billion and a global workforce of 3.3 billion are in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed.

COVID-19 has underscored the importance of humanitarian leadership and global solidarity. On April 2, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution, co-sponsored by 188 nations including Qatar, calling for “intensified international cooperation to contain, mitigate and defeat the pandemic, including by exchanging information, scientific knowledge and best practices and by applying the relevant guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization.”

Solidarity is a matter of both morality and long-term vision. Failure to pass this test would leave deep psychological wounds in left-behind countries, paving the way for all manner of extremism and new crises—from pandemics to conflicts—that would threaten everyone. By rallying around science and solidarity today, we will sow the seeds for greater unity tomorrow.

The coronavirus does not respect borders. Nor does it discriminate. It brings into stark view the imperative for humanitarian leadership. This crisis has revealed variations in state capacity to contain the spread of the virus.

Many governments either lack adequate capacity to respond, or in some cases, the necessary political will to provide for their citizens. For example, the most developed countries – those in the very high human development category – have on average 55 hospital beds, over 30 physicians, and 81 nurses per 10,000 people, compared to 7 hospital beds, 2.5 physicians, and 6 nurses in a least developed country.

One can readily imagine that if the COVID-19 response has been dire in the developed countries, it is going to be infinitely more devastating for governments that have only a fraction of the financial and medical resources.

Despite the blockade, the State of Qatar stands out as one of the most actively involved in global humanitarian responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Qatar has provided significant humanitarian aid to 20 countries so far, including assistance in the field of medical supplies, building field hospitals, and contributing USD 140 million to multilateral organizations working to develop vaccines or ensure the resilience of healthcare in other countries.

To date, Qatar has sent substantial aid to China, Iran, Palestine, Italy, Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Nepal and Rwanda. In addition, the representation mission of the Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) in Turkey has recently distributed supplementary food aid to around 110,000 families at internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in Idlib and Aleppo Governorates, northern Syria.

In the age of COVID-19, protecting the most vulnerable among us is not just a moral imperative but also an urgent public health objective. The health of one is the health of all.

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New Social Compact

COVID-19: More than a Biological Weapon

Sabah Aslam

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While the biological virus is a common enemy of humankind, the political virus born out of certain American politicians is equally detestable, for it has damaged the global anti-epidemic cooperation and impeded the long-term development and progress of human society. The virus in the political world has done even more damages than the virus from the natural world.

What are the sources of this political virus then? It is rooted in the selfish interests of a handful of American politicians. Not long ago, the American media revealed that senior US officials had handed down documents to a number of federal agencies requesting all federal employees to speak consistently about the pandemic and blame China for everything. The document was practically a confession of the US government on how it implemented the buck-passing. As 2020 is America’s election year, some American politicians are so crazily intent on fabricating all kinds of fallacies about “holding China accountable,” attacking the WHO for being too “China-centric,” and even criticizing some state governors for poor epidemic response, all to keep the epidemic from affecting the election. Such unscrupulous “political shows” reflect how desperate these politicians are to cover up their misconduct both in the decision and execution of their response, with a purpose of deflecting the public grumble.

The political virus is a tumor stemming from racism. After the WHO and the scientific circle named the novel coronavirus COVID-19, some American politicians deliberately ignored the new nomenclature and insisted on calling it the “Chinese virus”. It is an international consensus not to label a virus with a region, state, or nation, which is also a universal principle that the international community should uphold. Yet these American politicians are determined to defy the world by intentionally steering public opinions in the direction of racism and xenophobia, and practicing racial discrimination. The use of the term “Chinese virus” for coronavirus laid bare the absolute absence of common sense, conscience, cooperative spirit, and morality in those politicians infected with the “political virus”.

The political virus derives from the Cold War mentality. A small group of American politicians have been obsessed with political maneuver and slandering China, especially the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been busy fanning flames and spreading rumors. The “political virus” ingrained in their mind is the hotbed of all their vicious intentions. They have the wishful thinking that accusing China of the so-called “mask diplomacy” would offset its influence; vilifying China’s aid to help build the African Center for Disease Prevention and Control as an attempt to “steal genome data” would drive a wedge between China and Africa; and egging other countries to claim reparations from China would pin the “original sin” of the virus on the country…. These whimsical whoppers are nothing but Washington’s attempts to curb China’s development.

The political virus is rooted in the obsession with “great-power competition.” The US government labeled China and Russia as the biggest challenges to US national security in its latest National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, and declared the reemergence of great-power competition. During this global crisis of COVID-19, certain American politicians, going out of their way to make “ammunition to win the great-power competition,” have gone all out to oppose China in every possible way and tried hard to cover up America’s embarrassment of ineffective epidemic control measures by smearing China, rather than focus on preventing the virus spread. As we can never wake up someone pretending to be asleep, perhaps the best way is to leave him alone and “not even turn our eyes in his direction,” as the famous Chinese writer Lu Xun once said.

The disease has seeped down into the skin and should be treated before it gets worse. The world is still struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, and all countries need to join hands in defeating it. We advise the American politicians with ulterior motives to stop the misdeed and change course before its too late. We also call on the international community to stay on high alert and take strong measures to prevent the American political virus from spreading to do more harm to the global anti-epidemic efforts and the normal international order.

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New Social Compact

Spanish Flu and COVID-19 – are there lessons for the world of work?

Dorothea Hoehtker

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In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many look to the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918/19, which killed an estimated 50 million people, or 2,5 per cent of the global population. Are there lessons to be learned from the world of work perspective?

The Spanish flu did not start in Spain but was called that because Spanish newspapers were the first to report about it. From its presumed origins in a World War I military camp in the state of Kansas, United States, it washed over the world in three waves. The first, mild one in spring 1918, was followed by a second, more deadly outbreak between September and December 1918 and a third one at the beginning of 1919.

All countries were hit, although unequally. Samoa lost 22 per cent of its population, Spain 12,3 per cent and the US 6,5 per cent. In colonial India, the flu killed 6 per cent of the population, amounting to 18 million, roughly the number of victims of the First World War.

Similar patterns, similar measures

COVID-19 and the Spanish Flu both have struck a highly globalized and interconnected world where viruses easily travel on ships, carriers and trains, or – today – on airplanes. As 1918 was the last year of the First World War, the movement of troops and refugees was a significant factor in spreading the virus. In 2019/20, business and leisure travellers have been the main carriers.

The only measures to control the spread of the disease back in 1918 just as in 2020 were better hygiene, quarantine of the infected, “social distancing” and shutting down much of public life. This implied massive restrictions of civil liberties and paralysis and disruption of the economy.

In 1918/19 as well as today, the poorest and most vulnerable, who often lived in crowded conditions, with low paid work and little or no access to health care, were much more exposed to infection. They also suffered most immediately from drastic lock down measures, and were at a particularly high risk of losing their lives and their livelihoods.

Different impacts

The Spanish Flu happened at the tail end of the First World War, in a context of widespread chaos. The response to the crisis was uncoordinated, mostly local, with a high mobilization of civil society groups.

In industrialized nations, the economic impact was rather short lived. Eventually, the economic boom of the “Roaring Twenties” got many people back to work.

In other parts of the world, such as India and sub-Saharan Africa, the consequences were deeper and longer lasting. A shortfall in labour affected harvest and sowing. Food prices spiked, causing widespread famine and an increased flow of migrants into urban centres. This led to social unrest, strikes and rebellion against colonial powers.

What we can learn

Although the world is very different today, we can learn from the events in 1918/19 that a pandemic increases poverty and inequalities; this carries a social and human cost, which can have long term destabilizing effects.

Today, states have more possibilities to react, including through fiscal and labour market policies and tools, and the opportunity for international cooperation through the United Nations and their international partners.

Policies in response to the COVID-19 crisis need to address inequalities and ensure that poor, rural and marginalized communities are not forgotten. ILO’s labour standards such as Recommendation No. 205, on employment and decent work for peace and resilience, provide the necessary framework.

The global economic and labour market problems arising out of the COVID-19 crisis suggest looking also at the economic crisis of the 1930s and reconstruction policies after World War II.

As a response to massive unemployment and destruction, the ILO promoted comprehensive social protection, including health care, and a variety of employment promotion policies based on the conviction that poverty anywhere constitutes a danger to prosperity everywhere.

These past responses can be an inspiration for recovery policies which have to be fair and – compared to the past – much more sustainable.

ILO

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