‘People who got Covid-19 and recovered are not considered vaccine candidates globally’
Providing Covid-19 vaccines to the right people would be complicated as there are no serological tests (antibody tests), and it would also lead to wastage of the valuable vaccines, speakers said at a discussion program.
They also see the vaccination program as an opportunity to make a database of elderly and people with comorbidities that will help keep them in close observation for other health purposes as well.
The observations came at virtual dialogue on "Access to Covid-19 Vaccine in Bangladesh: Who, When, and How?" organized by the Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh on Sunday afternoon.
Eminent vaccine expert Dr Bijon Kumar Sil said globally those who have recovered from Covid 19, who have been infected, and people with antibodies are not considered vaccine candidates.
“Government has to ensure before vaccinating a person whether they are eligible or not. Otherwise it would be a waste of a valuable vaccine,” he said.
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But since the government did not do any antibody tests, it would make the process more complicated, he added.
Prof Dr Rashid-E-Mahbub, chairman of the National Committee on Health Rights Movement felt the same and said: “We actually don’t know whom we have to provide the vaccine for sure, or if everybody needs it or not.”
“We are yet to fix our priority lists,” the former president of Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) added.
Meanwhile, Bijon emphasized that the next phase of work after vaccination was the most important.
“Government has to follow up if the vaccine is working after it is administered. We have to ensure if the vaccine is working properly or has any side effects,” he said.
Chairman and Associate Professor of Public Health and Informatics at Jahangirnagar University Dr Tajuddin Sikder said it would be a disaster if side-effects are exposed but not monitored.
“We have to keep in mind that the vaccines that got approved till now did not focus on our local people. Authorities need to form a strong follow-up committee to determine if the vaccine is working properly,” he added.
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Dhaka University Economics professor, Dr Rumana Huque, said that the information on children's health can be found on health cards but there is no data on elderly.
“A more sustainable system for healthcare of these elder people could be ensured through this database,” he added.
Speakers at the program urged the government to allow importing vaccines through the private sector but under government control. This will reduce pressure on the government as well, they added.
They also urged to include sanitary workers in the priority lists as they went door to door daily, and also the garment workers and pharmaceutical workers.
Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, convenor of Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh, moderated the discussion program.
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