The countrywide Covid-19 vaccination programme on the first day of its launch received a somewhat lukewarm response. But from the third day, the people in greater numbers started taking the jab at designated vaccination centres. On the fourth day, over 0.15 million (1.5 lakh) took the vaccine. The number of people taking vaccines will surely continue to go up.
It remains to be seen whether the people's response to vaccination will be enough to exhaust the vaccines to be imported from India during six months ending in June next. This is important because of the limited shelf life of the vaccines.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield has a shelf life of six months when stored at 2-degree Celsius to 8-degree Celsius. Once opened, multi-dose vials must also be used within 6 (six) hours when stored between the identical range of temperature.
When the vaccination programme is in progress across the country, fresh concerns are emerging over the interval between two shots of the Covishield vaccine and its reported ineffectiveness against the coronavirus variant detected in South Africa.
An FE report said the longer the gap---12 weeks--- the higher the effectiveness of the vaccine now being inoculated in many countries, including Bangladesh. The government had earlier set the interval between two Covid shots at eight weeks. But following tepid response witnessed in registration for the vaccination, the government re-fixed the gap at four weeks. At this interval, according to findings of the Oxford University researchers, the rate of efficacy of the vaccine is around 55 per cent. The efficacy rate rises to 82 per cent when the two shots are given 12 weeks apart.
Following the latest findings of the Oxford researchers, the government should reconsider the gap between the two jabs and revert to the original vaccination schedule.
Scientists involved in vaccine research do have a feeling that the SARS CoV-2 won't be eliminated and, as happened with many viruses, it would continue to mutate in many places. It might also happen in Bangladesh.
The vaccines that are being used now to check the spread of the coronavirus might also prove ineffective with the emergence of new variants. It is most likely scientists in different countries would continue to develop most effective vaccines against the coronavirus that have pushed the world to a dark corner and forced people to coin a new phrase 'New Normal'. None knows for sure when the world would be able to restore the 'old normal'. With the programmes of vaccinations becoming widespread across the world, the nations would surely try their best. But uncertainty remains.
Bangladesh has made a good start with its vaccination programme. But the job is unlikely to end in weeks or months. The government will have to draw a long-term vaccination schedule to face the deadly pathogen. It may have to procure new vaccines of far greater efficacy in the coming months or years.
This pandemic has brought the global scientific community closer than before as they shared their wealth of knowledge during one of the most trying times of humanity. Many liberal democracies and philanthropists have also joined hands with support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to help the poor developing nations fight the menace. So, the resolve to win the battle is very much clear, and it is unlikely to die down.