• Tuesday, Mar 09, 2021
  • Last Update : 04:37 am

Zafrullah urges PM to take first vaccine jab

  • Published at 03:40 pm January 22nd, 2021
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File photo: Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury addresses a press conference at Gonoshasthaya Nagar Hospital in Dhanmondi on November 03, 2018 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

He urges the government to halt private purchase of vaccines until the first 30 million doses are administered

Gonoshasthaya Kendra (GK) founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury has urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to receive the first shot of the Covid-19 vaccine when the vaccination program kicks off in Bangladesh.

Sheikh Hasina should be the first person to take the vaccine to inspire the masses, he said at a discussion on the proper management of the Covid-19 vaccine at the GK auditorium in Dhaka on Friday.   

People will have more confidence if the prime minister leads the way, he said. 

When asked if it would not be a more effective campaign if Awami League President Sheikh Hasina, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, and Jatiya Party Chief Patron Raushan Ershad all become the first three persons to be vaccinated, Zafrullah said: "That would definitely be good if it can be done, but the lead should be taken by the prime minister."


Also Read - BNP to President, PM: You get vaccinated first to encourage people


On Thursday, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said he would gladly receive the first jab while launching the vaccination program in the country. 

"Considering my age, I will definitely take that vaccine," he said while speaking to reporters during a virtual briefing after an online meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase.

In Friday's discussion,  Dr Zafrullah urged the government to halt purchase of Covid-19 vaccines by private companies until the first 30 million doses are administered by the government. "As private companies will charge more for the vaccine, who will guarantee that wrong or adulterated vaccines will not be administered [for stealing the vaccines from the facilities you are setting up]?"

He said there are many things in the vaccination plan which need to be revised.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen informed that some 1.5 million vaccines are going to be imported privately, and bringing coronavirus vaccines from the same sources at the same time would invite additional problems. 

On Thursday, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said he would gladly receive the first jab while launching the vaccination program in the country. 

"Considering my age, I will definitely take that vaccine," he said while speaking to reporters during a virtual briefing after an online meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase.

In Friday's discussion,  Dr Zafrullah urged the government to halt purchase of Covid-19 vaccines by private companies until the first 30 million doses are administered by the government. "As private companies will charge more for the vaccine, who will guarantee that wrong or adulterated vaccines will not be administered [for stealing the vaccines from the facilities you are setting up]?"

He said there are many things in the vaccination plan which need to be revised.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen informed that some 1.5 million vaccines are going to be imported privately, and bringing coronavirus vaccines from the same sources at the same time would invite additional problems. 

Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury addresses a discussion on the proper management of Covid-19 vaccine at the GK auditorium in Dhaka on Friday, January 22, 2021 | Dhaka Tribune

Major challenges

Dr Zafrullah said the major challenges for the vaccination program would be emergence of fake or adulterated vaccines, vaccinating the right individuals, convincing people to take the vaccine, testing its efficacy, managing private vaccination without impacting government vaccination program and monitoring the impact of the vaccine.

As a large portion of the population is not tech-savvy, a group of middlemen could take advantage of online registration, he feared.

He said that it would be much easier for the vaccine seekers if registration could be done manually using national identity cards.

First-generation vaccine

In the discussion, eminent virologist Prof Nazrul Islam said: "There could be side effects of the vaccine, but we still need to take the vaccine. People should understand this and be confident in receiving the jabs."


Also Read - Gift vaccine from India handed over to Bangladesh


According to the professor, the vaccine is likely to be effective for at least six months, but this is not confirmed at the moment.

"It is a first-generation vaccine and this type of vaccine is never used generally. Usually, the second-generation vaccine is administered. However, we are still taking the first-generation vaccine on an emergency basis," he added.

Dr Zafrullah said this is a part of science and the vaccination cannot be avoided at the moment. "Even if I am selected for vaccination, I will take the shot." 

Chairman of the Bangladesh Pharmacological Society Prof Md Sayedur Rahman and former director of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) Prof Zakir Hussain were also present at the program, among others.

On Thursday, Bangladesh received over 2 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine as a gift from India. 

Serum Institute of India (SII) is expected to export its first lot of the 5 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to Bangladesh around January 25-26.

Some 5 million doses of the vaccines are scheduled to arrive in each of the next five months, as per the agreement.

The government has approved a Tk1,271.55-crore proposal by the Health Services Division of the health ministry to import the 30 million doses of the vaccine from the SII. 

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