Professor Meerjady Sabrina Flora, chair of the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for Covid-19 Vaccines in Bangladesh and additional director general of the Directorate General of Health Services
Once having started to spread, a virus does not actually go away overnight. This is the reality. Maybe the severity of the virus reduces, or its spread becomes somewhat limited. But the virus remains as an endemic.
The H1N1 (influenza A virus) virus is still out there as it appeared in 2009. From that point of view, the coronavirus will prevail. At the same time, as vaccines are coming, it will give a kind of protection and if the shots provide immunity on a regular basis, it would be a great solution for us.
Development of the vaccines is very good news for us. The more people we can inoculate, the stronger the herd immunity will be.
But we will not get too many vaccine lots at the same time, and this will be a challenge for us. The three crore doses of Oxford vaccine will arrive in phases.
After that, we will get the shots from Covax will not come at the same time either. That means we cannot vaccinate 17 crore people at once, and we are taking vaccination preparation keeping that in mind.
Our immunisation will have to be carried out on a priority basis. When the shots will arrive in the country, people will want to get those immediately. With the shots arriving in lots, their distribution seems to be a huge challenge to me.
Those who are more susceptible to getting infected are likely to spread more if infected, and those more likely to develop complications if infected will be prioritised for vaccination. We have no choice but to vaccinate on a priority basis. We will provide people with health education so that they can understand this, and it is already in our plan.
So far, we have only had concrete discussions on the Oxford vaccine. However, discussions are underway on some more shots, including Russia's Sputnik.
Hopefully, some more vaccines will hit the market next year. Some companies in our country will be involved in vaccine production too, which will actually make the shots more available in the market. We hope these will happen next year.
Besides, talks on vaccine trials are underway with various companies. If all goes well, Bangladesh will go to a vaccine trial. We have already visited Globe Biotech's production site several times.
We have no reservations about the trials, and at the same time, we do not want to harm anyone by showing too much curiosity. We will finalise the trials in Bangladesh based on the potential vaccine candidates' earlier phase-1 and phase-2 trials.
We do not yet have all information about all vaccines. The lengthy trial of any shot is not done yet. So, we do not know how long a vaccine will be effective or the side effects it will have.
However, no major side effects have been noticed in the safety trials held so far. Therefore, we do not fear that there will be any major problem.
However, there might be some minor side effects, as it happens for any vaccine. Minor reactions in some people due to the administered foreign elements are very usual. Mass awareness will be built in this regard. Besides, those who will get the shots will be followed up regularly to know if there is any issue.
But vaccines are not the only solution. It is being assumed that the Covid-19 vaccine will not provide long-term immunity. Even if there is a vaccine, we have to follow some measures. That will be challenging too.
A virus usually weakens over time. When the infections subside, people stop following the virus safety measures. But no one is safe alone unless everyone is safe.
When you follow the safety measures, you not only protect yourself but also the nation. Because you can also spread the infection. Being infected means the person is a source of infection. So, everyone has to follow the virus safety measures.