The Ministry of Science and Technology on Wednesday expressed its inability to mass production of Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) to combat COVID-19 owing to funds shortage. This was revealed before the Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology here on Wednesday which met to discuss in detail the measures that the Ministry of Science and Technology along with its concerned departments has taken to combat COVID-19 in the country. The national IT Framework for the Post-COVID19 Scenario is also developed.
The committee also observed that the region may face food shortage if locust is not controlled. Pakistan is facing both locust and coronavirus. The committee was also informed that a consortium of 70 countries has been formed to work on the corona vaccine but Pakistan is not its member. Further, the local trial of ventilators is dangerous if international standards are not been followed.
National IT Framework for the Post-COVID19 Scenario Developed
Chaired by Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan, the meeting was attended by Senator Nuzhat Sadiq, Senator Syed Muhammad Sabir Shah, Senator Gianchand, Senator Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti, Senator Hidayatullh, Senator Asad Ali Khan Junejo and senior officers from the Ministry of Science and Technology, HEC, PSQCA, PCSIR, CUI along with all concerned.
The meeting was given a detailed overview of the efforts made by the Ministry to curb the spread of the Coronavirus in Pakistan. The Committee was informed that the various agencies working under the Ministry have been working diligently and have produced masks, sanitizers, temperature guns, chemicals, walk through gates and PPEs locally and in line with WHO standards.
The Committee was informed that the hurdles faced by the Ministry pertain to funding as mass production is not possible without appropriate funds. The committee lauded the efforts of the Ministry and agencies and directed that National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the Ministry of Finance be summoned in the next meeting so that details of distribution and funding may be discussed in detail. Research capacity and preparedness to battle the pandemic in Pakistan would also be gauged.
While reviewing the efforts of the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) Laboratories, the Committee was informed that it has been producing and supplying different products to various government organizations in Pakistan. These products, it revealed, were manufactured in adherence to strict WHO standards, price regulation was also stringent.
The Committee was informed that PCSIR had to date produced 48630 of hand sanitizer, 10730 liters of disinfectant spray, 04 Walk Through Gates. The organization is collaborating with FPCCI for mass production. About the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC), Ahmed was of the view that the organization must continue its work with missionary zeal and the rest of the departments must follow suit. The post-Covid19 framework has remained underdeveloped for a long time.
He said that PEC had taken excellent initiatives such as the establishment of Pakistan Innovation and Testing Centre (PITC) and Local manufacturing of ventilators and EM devices. The Committee was informed that 57 designs of ventilators have been received by PEC, 14 design prototypes have been shortlisted for evaluation, 5 devices have been approved for Industrial grade model, 2 ventilators are under process of DRAP approval, and FDA and CE certification. Seven ventilators under the 2nd evaluation/design prototype stage which is a huge achievement.
Discussing efforts of the Corona Virus Taskforce, the Committee was informed that 2000 tests have been conducted by the National Institute of Virology, medicine formulation is being researched with numerous medical institutes across Pakistan and study of the SARS-COV-2 Genome have been taken up as well.
A National IT Framework for the Post-COVID19 scenario for track and trace had also been developed. Chairman Committee was of the view that details of whether or not Pakistan is a member of the 75 country alliance on COVID19. He said that these details along with any efforts to produce a vaccine must be submitted to the Committee in the next meeting.