Health Desk – 26 Mar, 2021: Whole vaccination plan might be revised, says DGHS
Although there is uncertainty over securing the next shipment of the Covid-19 vaccine, the third such consignment from Serum Institute of India, the health authorities have to administer the second dose of the vaccine at the scheduled time.
For this reason, administering the first dose may come to a halt, sources said.
The Covid-19 media cell spokesperson under the DGHS, Prof Dr Robed Amin, told that as the supply of the third consignment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine Covishield had come to a halt, an uncertainty had arisen.
A few days ago Health Secretary Abdul Mannan said the authorities were hopeful about the third consignment of the vaccine arriving in late March or the first week of April after India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Dhaka on the occasion of the 50th anniversary celebrations of Bangladesh’s independence.
Within three days of the statement, Reuters on Wednesday night reported that India had put a temporary hold on all major exports of the shot in order to meet domestic demand as infections rose. The move might affect the supply of the third consignment to Bangladesh.
Despite the prevailing situation the Bangladesh government is going to continue the second dose from the scheduled day on April 8.
Dr Robed Amin said that no decision had been made yet. A regular weekly meeting of the vaccine core committee was scheduled for Thursday evening, where a decision might be taken over how the vaccination could be done in the near future, after revising the existing plan.
Reuters reported that the recent measures by the Indian government also prevented the supply of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to the Covax facilities as well. And Bangladesh is scheduled to receive the same vaccine.
However, one such rumour of India not supplying vaccines to Bangladesh had cropped up in January as well but which turned out to be false in the end.
DGHS sources said the second dose of the vaccine was being given priority mainly for two reasons. First, to ensure that even if vaccine import was stopped, the person who got the first dose could avail the second dose on time and, second, the expiry date of the vaccines.
The vaccines are likely to meet their expiry date between late April and July. Therefore, the health authorities are thinking of administering those doses before they expire.
In the meantime, they are hoping that they will get the third consignment of vaccines which will help continue the vaccination process.
“With the available doses the DGHS could vaccinate people for one and a half months and so we are hoping that the vaccination program will be continued amid uncertainty over the purchased vaccine. Receiving vaccines from Covax would be a relief,” Prof Robed Amin said.
Vaccine received till now
According to DGHS, Bangladesh has received only seven million of the 30 million vaccine doses purchased.
While the country has received two million doses as a gift from India, it will receive another 1.2 million vaccine doses as a gift on Friday.
Under the tripartite deal with India’s Serum Institute and Beximco, the Bangladesh government was supposed to get five million doses of vaccine every month from late January, but the number was reduced after the first month due to a lack of people willing to take the vaccine.
If the consignment is received properly on Friday the total number of vaccine doses received till now will be 10.2 million.
Meanwhile, during this whole process of vaccination several thousand doses were being wasted everyday due to people not showing up at the vaccination centres, said DGHS sources.
Till Thursday, some 5.13 million people had received the vaccine. That means that after Friday the country will have nearly 5 million doses of vaccines in stock.