Tuesday, March 10, 2020
By James Phillips
By Carolyn Kormann
Barney Graham is the deputy director of the Vaccine Research Center, at the N.I.A.I.D., in Bethesda, Maryland, which is collaborating with Moderna and other academic labs on a possible vaccine. Graham is one of the world’s experts on the structure of viruses and how they interact with human cells to make us sick. In the seven years before the -19 virus appeared, one of Graham’s projects had involved understanding the coronavirus, in order to potentially develop a vaccine. (, which can be transmitted from camels to humans, has been contained to the Middle East, and seems to spread mostly in confined spaces, like hospitals.) “There’s several ways of delivering a protein to a human body that will make a vaccine-type response,” he told me. Certain proteins, when injected into a human, are antigenic, provoking the body’s immune system to create antibodies. Traditionally, proteins are made “in a microbrewery type of bioreactor,” Graham said—a common flu-virus vaccine, for instance, is grown in chicken eggs—and it “takes up to two years to get that protein ready. That is not fast enough if you’re in a pandemic situation.” Researchers have long been working on so-called vaccine-platform manufacturing technologies for future use. The idea is akin to creating a frozen-yogurt maker for vaccines—same machine, different flavors. With vaccine-platform technologies, the hope is that the way in which the vaccine is manufactured and delivered to the body—such as Moderna’s messenger-RNA (mRNA) technology—will transport any antigen and, therefore, theoretically protect against any infectious disease. “You can make the RNA in the same way, purify it in the same way, release it in the same way, and yet make many different proteins,” Graham said.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said Pakistan’s economy has been compromised and is suffering because of the incompetence of the present government.
Addressing a seminar titled ‘Current Economic Crisis and Solutions’, the PPP chairman said his party participated in the last general elections not only against PTI but also against PML-N. “PPP had a stance in the 2018 elections that we are heading towards an economic disaster. We identified that the economic situation is difficult and the situation of the economy is not how the PML-N representatives portray it to be,” he said. “PTI government has made economy drastically worse in last 16 months. You ask the common man, vendors, farmers or workers as to how they are living these days,” he said.
“I believe that for any economy, confusion is the most menacing factor which tends to disrupt the processes. When your government and politicians are confused, they cannot convey their plans with clarity, and that is a disadvantage for the whole community,” the PPP chief said. “Imran Khan and his cabinet had decided not to go to the IMF, and instead of presenting their plan to the international money lender, they relied more on Pakistan’s foreign friends and allies. The money that was taken and its advantage that was assumed did not benefit as much,” he said. “Then the government took it upon itself to introduce stabilization measures such as devaluation and an increase in interest rates which were disastrous for everyone, from the common Pakistani man to people from every strata of the society,” he added.
“There is a difference in approach of PPP and other parties … we believe that this burden should be shared with those who are able to tolerate and withstand it,” Bilawal said. “We will not allow negotiations with the IMF done by the IMF employees. I believe that this way, we can give an answer to them and portray a realistic image which is beneficial for the people of Pakistan as well as the institutions which are involved,” he said. “We will have to generate extra revenues, otherwise how is this country going to run? In 2010-2011, the sales tax collection of the federal government was at Rs 14 billion from Sindh. Then in 2011-2012, when the Sindh province collected sales tax for itself, it was Rs 25 billion which is a 79 percent increase in one year, and our average increase from FBR is 22 percent. With the exception of one year, we have met each of our tax targets. Our tax collection in Sindh is 22 percent while it is 10 percent at the FBR,” he added.
Bilawal said in PPP’s government, introduction of GSP Plus gave Pakistan access to European markets. “We have to protect the benefits of this. Unfortunately, the previous and current governments have failed to do so. We are facing difficulties in trade with Iran and we cannot do trade with India,” he said. “InshaAllah, with your help, we can strategically, logically and practically approach the economic problems and solve them in order to stabilize the country,” he added.
Leading economists including Qaiser Bangali, Shahid Kardar, Dr Qais Aslam, PPP leaders Aitzaz Ahsan and Qamar Zaman Kaira were also present on the occasion.