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Vaccination still at snail’s pace

14 September 2021


Reza Mahmud:
Bangladesh started a nationwide vaccination programme against Covid-19 on February 7
through administering Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, aiming to inoculate 80 per cent of its population of around 170 million.
Yet, it still remains one of the low-ranked countries where the pace of vaccination remains very slow.
The total number of people vaccinated in Bangladesh accounts for only 8.1 per cent of the country's population, according to 'Our World in Data'.
To date, more than 3.37 crore (30.37 million) vaccine jabs, including first and second doses, have been administered in the country. By this time only 1.33 crore (10.37 million) people have been fully vaccinated.  
Though the vaccination campaign has picked its pace up in the recent months, the country is still lagging behind its neighbours in terms of the number of the population vaccinated.
Among neighbouring nations, Bhutan stands at the top inoculating 62.6 per cent of its population, followed by 59.3 per cent vaccinated in the Maldives, 48.4 per cent in Sri Lanka, 18.1 per cent in Nepal, 12 per cent in India, 10.1 per cent in Pakistan, and 1.1 per cent in Afghanistan, according to Our World in Data.
Meanwhile, the United States has already vaccinated 54.4 per cent of its total population, while the total number of inoculated population reached 66 per cent in the United Kingdom, 62.3 per cent in the Germany, 49.2 per cent in Turkey, 62.9 per cent in France, 27.5 per cent in Russia and 61.3 per cent in Israel, according to Our World in Data.
"Bangladesh's lagging vaccination rate hinges on supply. The supply has been slow, as the country mainly depends on foreign sources to get the Covid-19 jabs," Prof. Muzaherul Huq, former adviser, South-East Asia region, World Health Organization (WHO), and founder, Public Health Foundation of Bangladesh, told The New Nation.
He said, Bangladesh will have to inoculate 12.5 crore people to achieve herd immunity against the novel coronavirus. "To inoculate such a big population, the authorities will have to mange at least 25 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccine."
Bangladesh has so far received a total of 4, 43, 15,080 doses of Covid-19 vaccine from various sourcesr. Of these, 3,42, 61, 539 doses have been administered among the people. Besides, there remain 1,53,541 doses of vaccine now in stock, according to a press release issued by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) on September 11.
Bangladesh has already approved Oxford's AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Pfizer and Moderna jabs to vaccinate its pupulation.
Sources said the government earlier made a plan to inoculate at least one crore people every month to prevent the Covid-19 transmission. But the plan does not work due to supply shortage.
When contacted, Dr Shamsul Haque, Member Secretary of the Vaccine Deployment Committee of DGHS told The New Nation on Monday, "The government makes plans to implement those. But to vaccinate mass in the current situation is not easy to implement."
He, however, said, the plan will be implemented once we can make the jabs available.
DGHS sources said that there are about 7500 vaccination centers across the country. These centers are able to vaccinate highest 75,00000 per month.
"Very few centers are able to administer 200 vaccines daily. Most of the centers are inoculating 50 to 100 jabs in a day," said an official of the DGHS preferring anonymity.
He said, the authorities inoculate about 2,50,000 jabs highest in a day.
Officials from the DGHS said the centers have not adequate manpower to inoculate more people.
When contacted, Public Health Expert Dr. Lenin Chowdhury told The New Nation, "Without gaining herd immunity it is very difficult to save the people from the pandemic."
He also said, the government should prepare a plan for mass vaccination to protect people from the deadly disease.

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