If we get five million doses each month, there is no way to immunize 70-80% of the population by this year
Virologist Prof Dr Nazrul Islam chats with Dhaka Tribune about how the vaccine deployment plan should be implemented 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 because the whole world is at the start of the vaccine deployment process. If we get five million doses each month, there is no way to immunize 70-80% of the population by this year. It will take time.
However, the good thing is that at least some of the high-risk people, the elderly and the front-line people will be protected.
Is it possible to contract the virus after vaccination?
People can still get infected after being vaccinated. 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 receiving the vaccine.
The vaccine will not lose its effectiveness if the recipient becomes infected after being vaccinated.
What will happen if a recipient misses the second dose?
If someone misses the second dose, he / she will have antibodies in their system in a weaker form. However, skipping the second dose is not recommended at all.
We are not aiming for small protections against Covid-19. Health authorities should ensure that all recipients receive the second dose.
Should vaccines be available privately?
Considering the size of the population of Bangladesh, I think private health care providers should have the option to vaccinate people.
However, we all know what some private healthcare providers did last year in the name of Covid-19 testing, starting by overloading patients to issuing false Covid-19 test reports.
Therefore, private health care providers should also be allowed to vaccinate people, but should be strictly monitored by the government to avoid any kind of anomalies.
How long will the vaccine protect recipients of Covid-19? Will existing vaccines be effective against newer variants of the coronavirus?
The immunity built by the vaccine in the recipient’s system may weaken over time. There is not enough evidence to say exactly how long the immunity will last. People may need to take photos more than once in their lifetime.
Researchers around the world are currently working on the new variants to see if the vaccine can offer protection against it.
What are the main challenges in Bangladesh in implementing the immunization program?
There are quite a few. Storing the vaccine vials at the right temperature, properly implementing the vaccine deployment plan, recruiting qualified people to immunize citizens, maintaining a database, are some of the challenges that Bangladesh is going to face.
Transparency on the distribution and implementation of vaccines is essential.
This global health crisis has brought us to our knees and the vaccine gives us hope. I urge everyone involved in the immunization program and beneficiaries to be more humane, ethical and responsible to end this pandemic together.