If we receive five million doses every month, there is no way we can vaccinate 70% to 80% of the population by this year
Virologist Prof Dr Nazrul Islam talks to Dhaka Tribune on how the vaccine deployment plan should be carried out in Bangladesh and how the vaccination will work.
How long will it take to vaccinate the majority of the population in Bangladesh?
It is too early to tell as the whole world is at the beginning stage of the vaccine deployment process. If we receive five million doses every month, there is no way we can vaccinate 70% to 80% of the population by this year. It will take time.
However, the good thing is that at least a section of high-risk people, elderly people, and frontliners will be protected.
Is it possible to contract the virus after vaccination?
People can still get infected after getting the shot. It takes time for the vaccine to build up immunity in the recipient’s body. Usually, it takes more than a week to develop immunity after the shot is administered.
The vaccine will not lose its efficacy if the recipient gets infected after being vaccinated.
What will happen if a recipient misses the second dose?
If somebody misses the second dose, he/she will have antibodies in his/her system in a weaker form. However, it is not at all recommended that the second dose be skipped.
We are not aiming for little protections against Covid-19. The health authorities should make sure that all the recipients do get the second dose.
Should the vaccines be available privately?
Considering the population size of Bangladesh, I think private health care providers should be given the opportunity to vaccinate people.
However, we all know what some private health care providers did last year in the name of Covid-19 testing, starting from overcharging patients to issuing fake Covid-19 test reports.
Therefore, private health care providers should also be authorized to vaccinate people, but should be strictly monitored by the government to avoid any kind of anomalies.
How long will the vaccine protect recipients from Covid-19? Will existing vaccines be effective against new coronavirus variants?
Immunity built by the vaccine in the recipient’s system may wane over time. There is not enough evidence to tell exactly how long the immunity will last. There is a possibility that people need to take shots repeatedly in their lifetime.
Researchers around the world are now working on the new variants to see if the vaccine can give protection against it.
What are the major challenges in Bangladesh in carrying out the vaccination program?
There are quite a few. Storing vaccine vials at the right temperatures, proper implementation of the vaccine deployment plan, recruiting skilled people to vaccinate citizens, maintaining a database, are a few challenges Bangladesh is going to face.
Transparency about vaccine distribution and implementation is a must.
This global health crisis has brought us to our knees and the vaccine is giving us hope. I urge everyone involved in the vaccination program and the beneficiaries to be more humane, ethical and responsible in ending this pandemic together.