• Thursday, Jul 07, 2022
  • Last Update : 03:54 pm

ED: We can’t rely on imports forever

  • Published at 02:17 am August 17th, 2021
Covid -19 vaccines AFP

We need to find a way to keep the jabs coming, and not worry about running out

In the early days of bringing the vaccine to Bangladesh, mistakes were made -- no doubt. We relied too much on India, and then when the Delta variant ravaged India, understandably, the agreement fell through. Bangladesh was left with a dire crisis, and soon we scrambled to procure more doses from all the sources we could find. A valuable lesson has been learned: When a crisis is as big as this one, we cannot rely on any single party to always have our back.

In fact, our goal should be to safely and cheaply produce vaccines right here at home, so that when deals with other countries fall through, our population is still taken care of. Right now, with the ever-mutating virus, no expert in the world can tell for sure how long this pandemic will last, and whether or not, sometime in the future, we will all start needing booster shots. 

In that case, there is no telling how many doses will be needed here at home, because getting the standard two-jabs of AstraZeneca, for example, may not be all that a person needs. One thing is clear: We need to find a way to keep the jabs coming, and not worry about running out. Co-production, then, is a definite step in the right direction.

As noted virologist Dr Nazrul Islam told this newspaper: “Co-production means a company in Bangladesh gets a license to produce a Covid-19 vaccine locally. Buying materials in bulks and bottling those is not an option, but producing vaccines is a much better one.”

This pandemic has taken a disastrous toll on us not just in a very tangible sense of deaths, health costs, and economic losses, but it has also dragged down our morale. We must, though, keep our eyes on the big picture and start planning long term. We hardly have a choice in that matter.

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