The Financial Express

Social media campaign against vaccines stirs up worries: Health experts

| Updated: January 19, 2021 18:45:47

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Social media campaign against vaccines stirs up worries: Health experts

Health experts on Monday expressed concern over a negative impression created among the people about the Covid-19 vaccines due to unceasing adverse comments in the social media.

They urged the mass media to play an active role in countering the false campaign and motivating the people to take vaccines.

SWACHIP (Swadhinata Chikitshak Parishad) president Prof Dr Iqbal Arsalan said, "The people were eager to take the vaccines earlier. But many of them have now developed negative attitude due to strong campaign in the social media."

"The mainstream media can play an effective role to dispel this kind of misconception," he added.

Dr Arsalan was speaking as the special guest at the launch of a Covid-19 health bulletin at a city hotel.

Health minister Zahid Maleque was present there as the chief guest and state minister of ICT division Zunaid Ahmed Palak as the special guest.

Speaking at another programme earlier on the same day, Mr Maleque said the 15 million doses of vaccine that Bangladesh had ordered are likely to arrive by 25 of this month from India.

India will send some vaccine doses as a gift to Bangladesh, which may come even before that, he added.

The minister, however, said the private sector will be allowed to import vaccine, but the price will be fixed by the government.

He was addressing a 'Meet the Press' programme at Dhaka Reporters' Unity as the chief guest.

In the bulletin launching programme, Dr Arsalan said the government needs to take some scientific measures to prevent the new variant of coronavirus.

"Vaccine is not an alternative to masks, hand wash and physical distancing," he mentioned.

DGHS additional director general Prof Dr Nasima Sultana delivered an address of welcome at the event.

She said the rate of death is higher among male Covid cases (over 75 per cent). The gender gap is also significant in the infection rate, she added.

Most of these males were aged above 50 years and had co-morbidities. Males are more symptomatic than females and the rate of hospital admission in the case of former is also more.

Of the total 0.214-million Covid cases, 70 per cent or 0.149 million are male and 65 per cent of them (45,016) needed oxygen support.

The number of females needed oxygen support was at 23,845.

"In a quick survey on 100 Covid cases, it was found that 44 per cent of the patients had used masks before getting the infection," Dr Sultana said.

"The rate of mask-use was 89 per cent among those who were tested negative," she added.

Bangladesh Medical Research Council chairman Prof Dr Modasser Ali and SWACHIP secretary came down heavily on health secretary for demonstrating bureaucratic attitude towards and undermining the contributions of doctors on many occasions.

Mr Ali said 31 government officials have received financial aid for their Covid-time services from the prime minister. Of them, 30 are bureaucrats and only one doctor.

"This is how the contribution of doctors is evaluated by the bureaucrats," he added.

Minister Mr Maleque said Bangladesh has succeeded in tackling the pandemic due to the enormous digital capacity of the ICT division.

"There are both successes and failures. But today it's the time for thanksgiving only," he told the bulletin launching programme.

Referring to Oxford vaccine, he said the consignment will arrive soon, but it does not mean everything has been done. The task of vaccination is challenging, he said.

The minister warned against a conspiracy theory and told the public not to pay any heed to rumours.

"There may be side-effects of vaccine. Nobody in the world can guarantee you that there won't be any side-effect of vaccine. Medicines also do produce side-effects."

Earlier in the morning, Mr Maleque told the media that all the journalists would get vaccine like the frontliners.

He said 0.8-million doses of Pfizer vaccine would be brought for 0.4-million people. The process of bringing freezers to store the vaccine at minus 70 degrees temperature is underway.

Health secretary Abdul Mannan said the data of the bulletin is not updated. There is scope for updating the publication further.

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