Fears for ex-Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif as health deteriorates

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Pakistani police commandos escort as a vehicle of Shahbaz Sharif, politician and brother of former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, arrives at a hospital to see his brother, in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. (AP)
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Police officers stand alert outside a hospital where Pakistan former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is admitted in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. (AP)
Updated 24 October 2019

Fears for ex-Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif as health deteriorates

  • The 69-year-old was taken to hospital on Tuesday when his blood platelet count dropped to dangerous levels
  • Nawaz Sharif has previously suffered heart problems and has diabetes

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani leader Imran Khan said Thursday he was offering "sincere prayers" for his political rival Nawaz Sharif, after the ex-premier's deteriorating health saw him moved from prison to hospital this week.
Sharif, who served as prime minister three times before he was ousted in 2017, has been serving time in a Lahore jail for corruption.
But the 69-year-old was taken to hospital on Tuesday when his blood platelet count dropped to dangerous levels, local media have reported.
"Political differences notwithstanding, my sincere prayers are with Nawaz Sharif for his health," Khan tweeted Thursday, adding that he had ordered the "best possible health care and medical treatment" for him.
Sharif's younger brother Shahbaz, who took over the leadership of his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party after he was jailed, tweeted his concerns earlier this week.
"I am gravely concerned and worried on his fast deteriorating health condition," the younger Sharif wrote Tuesday.
Nawaz Sharif has previously suffered heart problems and has diabetes.
"Several tests are being taken to diagnose the exact nature of the disease and we have serious doubts about his health," another party stalwart, Khawaja Asif, told reporters in Lahore this week.
The Supreme Court disqualified Sharif from politics for life over graft allegations in 2017, and he later received a seven-year jail sentence.
He denies all the corruption charges against him and claims he is being targeted by the country's powerful security establishment.
Corruption is widely entrenched in Pakistan, with politicians regularly accused of misusing or stealing public funds and whisking the money out of the country.
Khan's new government, which took power in 2018, has launched a high-profile and controversial anti-corruption drive.


UK vaccine frontrunner could be available in first half of 2021

Updated 28 min 20 sec ago

UK vaccine frontrunner could be available in first half of 2021

  • Human trials of the vaccine will expand to hundreds more people in the “coming weeks.”

LONDON: A leading British scientist has said a Covid-19 vaccine could be rolled out across the country as early as the first half of next year.

Professor Robin Shattock leads the team working on Imperial College London’s vaccine, one of the UK’s two most promising research programs. He told Sky News: “We anticipate if everything goes really well, that we'll get an answer as to whether it works by early next year.

“Assuming that the funding is there to purchase that vaccine, we could have that vaccine rolled out across the UK in the first half of next year.”

Shattock also warned that there was “no certainty” that any of the vaccines currently being developed would work, but said the risk of that is “very, very low.”

Imperial College London is now conducting human trials of their vaccine, with 15 volunteers having received it so far. Shattock said this will be ramped up in the “coming weeks” to include another 200 to 300 patients.

“I think we're very lucky in the UK that we have two very strong candidates, the one from Imperial, the one from Oxford, and so we’re pretty well placed, but there's still not a certainty that either of those two will work,” he said.

Oxford University is also developing a vaccination for Covid-19, in partnership with British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.

While Shattock said he hopes Imperial College London’s vaccine will be available for the whole of the UK in the first half of next year, it is unclear how long it would take for it to be available outside of the country.

The UK, European Union and the US have all invested huge sums into vaccine development, and struck deals with pharmaceutical companies worth hundreds of millions of dollars each to ensure first-in-line access to successful vaccinations.

However, international organizations such as the UN, International Red Crescent and Red Cross, and Doctors Without Borders have raised concerns that the world’s poorest countries will be unable to access vaccinations and effective Covid-19 treatments due to rich countries outspending them.