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ADB Reports COVID-19 Deaths in Pakistan 20 Times Higher Than Official Figures

ADB Reports COVID-19 Deaths in Pakistan 20 Times Higher Than Official Figures

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has released a report titled “What has COVID-19 taught us about Asia’s health emergency preparedness and response?” revealing significant discrepancies in COVID-19 mortality figures across Asia. In Pakistan, the estimated COVID-19 deaths are reported to be around 20 times higher than the official figures, totaling approximately 664,000 deaths.

The report highlights that such undercounting of COVID-19-related deaths is not unique to Pakistan but is prevalent across low-income economies in the region. Limited testing capacity, low public trust in health facilities, and instances of data manipulation contribute to the inaccuracies in reporting. Consequently, assessing the effectiveness of policies in controlling the spread of COVID-19 becomes challenging.

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Furthermore, the report examines the impact of the pandemic on psychological well-being (PWB) in Asia. It notes that eight countries, including Pakistan, experienced significant declines in PWB during the early stages of the pandemic. This decline in PWB coincided with peaks in government non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) stringency and COVID-19 severity, indicating the psychological toll of strict measures and the health crisis.

Additionally, the report sheds light on the disparities in health infrastructure across Asia and the Pacific. Prior to the pandemic, there was considerable variation in the availability of hospitals, clinics, and labs per capita. ICU bed utilization also varied significantly, with countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan facing challenges in meeting demand.

Overall, the report underscores the need for improved data transparency and health infrastructure to effectively respond to future health emergencies in the region.