Experts urged to play active role in curbing misinfo campaigns

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By Ali Imran

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Science and Technology Senator Shibli Faraz on Tuesday urged the Pakistan Academy of Sciences (PAS) and scientists in general to play their role in countering the disinformation campaigns related to public health and global health security.
Speaking at a webinar “Pandemic Preparedness: Science and Countermeasures” organised by the Pakistan Academy of Sciences (PAS), the minister stated that the abundance of unfiltered information makes it difficult for people to identify truthful and trustworthy sources from false or misleading ones.
Pakistan was facing different challenges as compared to the developed world as on one hand we had to control the pandemic and on the other, we could not afford to shut the country down and leaving people at the mercy of fate. In this situation, the government policy of “smart

lockdowns” worked successfully and was appreciated internationally, he said. Faraz appreciated different segments of the society like religious leaders, academia, and philanthropists for helping us to cater to the situation. He pointed out that among the most pressing issues in preparing for the global response to a pandemic are the design, development, manufacture, and dissemination of vaccines.
The response to this pandemic has shown that when leading vaccine manufacturers are fully engaged in a global response, it might be possible for them to manufacture substantial doses of vaccine on timelines faster than previously envisioned.
It is heartening to note that even Africa has planned to enhance their vaccine production capacity from 1 percent to 60 percent by 2040, he said. He assured that the Ministry of Science and Technology will welcome any such effort in the country. “I am sure that through events like this we will learn an enormous amount from the policies, technologies, and financing strategies used to have better diagnostic techniques and produce Covid-19 vaccines”.
“These lessons will be critical to informing emergency global vaccine manufacturing; diagnosis and therapeutics efforts in the future”, he said. Speaking on the occasion, PAS President Professor Khalid Mahmood Khan appreciated the efforts of the Association of Academy of Sciences of Asia (AASSA) for supporting the group in organising the event.
He said that Pakistan as a responsible nation is doing all that is possible to prevent the spread of this virus. AASSA Professor Yoo Hang Kim reiterated his support to PAS for holding such an event and containing coronavirus and Pakistan is mentioned as a success story in the world for reducing the deadly effect as compared to its neighboring countries. Professor Khairul Anuar bin Abdullah highlighted issues related to vaccines and their equitable access by all including the least developed countries.