The brief uncertainty surrounding Bangladesh's receipt of Oxford's Covid-19 vaccine from India seems to be over. Also, as assured by Bangladesh government's top health officials, the vaccine should be available in the country by the end of February. So, let us hope that things would progress on schedule and the people would soon be able to draw the expected benefit from the vaccine once it is in hand. Actually, the country will need many times more than the total 30 million doses of vaccine it is likely to finally obtain from the Indian source. In that case, it is further expected that the government is also looking for other potential sources of vaccine to meet the entire need of the population.
Admittedly, the government has so far made commendable efforts to get the vaccine early. But while approving of the move, it would also be worthwhile to note that the real test for those in charge will begin after the vaccine begins to arrive in the country. The challenge will be to efficiently handle the complex logistics involving transport, preservation and distribution of the vaccine. There is also the issue of ensuring that the cold chain is in place. And if necessary, the authorities should take urgent measures to improve the capacity of the existing setup. In case the existing depots at the district level are not enough, temporary preservation facilities should be created. Strong monitoring will also be required during the vaccine's transfer from its point of receipt to the delivery end so that optimum temperature level is strictly maintained throughout the journey. However, the most crucial part of the entire exercise will be when the occasion to inoculate people with the vaccine commences.
To run the vaccination drive effectively will require a powerful expert committee in charge of supervising the entire programme. First, there will be a lot of competition among people to get the jab first. So, the government should have the mechanism to inform the public in advance of its detailed plan: how the vaccination in each union or ward will start and when, and what will be the order of priorities of inoculation. This would be necessary to avoid any confusion or chaos during the time of vaccination. On this score, the government will have to keep the vaccination programme free from corruption and the influence of self-serving quarters. The responsible government functionaries on different occasions have given us to understand that all necessary preparations to start the vaccination programme is in due order. One would like to have trust in their, especially, the health ministry's, words of assurance in this regard. Hopefully, this time the ministry and the department concerned would be able to avoid the kind of mistakes that led to some mismatches in the past.
A word of caution. There should be no room for complacency about the vaccine. In fact, all the concerns over the pandemic will not come to an end as soon as we get hold of the vaccine. It will be a long and arduous task to inoculate the whole population, even if enough doses are available for the purpose. To be frank, to complete the exercise it may take some years. So, it has to be kept in mind that the pandemic will be around for sometime. In that case, there will be no reason at any stage of the vaccination drive to be lax about observing the basic health protocols.