Govt plans to vaccinate 50 million people by the end of the year
Even though the government plans to vaccinate at least 50 million people against Covid-19 this year, the vaccination campaign is currently progressing at a snail’s pace.
To meet the target, the country will need to vaccinate about 450,000 people each day.
However, over the past six months, an average of 28,000 people were vaccinated each day and the rate is slowing gradually.
According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), only 743 people received the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine on Sunday. All of them were second doses.
A total of 4,291,707 people have received both doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, so far while another 1,528,308 are waiting for the second shots.
Meanwhile, 876 people received the Pfizer vaccine on Sunday, taking the total number of people to have received the vaccine to 2,742. Second doses of the Pfizer vaccine are yet to be administered.
For the Sinopharm vaccine, as many as 7,740 first doses were administered on Sunday, taking the total number of recipients to 78,748. Among them, only 2,237 people have received the second dose.
DGHS spokesperson Dr Robed Amin told Dhaka Tribune that the main reasons for the vaccination campaign slowing were the availability of vaccines and the reluctance of the people to be vaccinated.
Vaccination capacity not a problem
Dr Robed Amin said that administering the vaccines in quick time was not a problem if the requisite number of vaccines could be acquired. “The current stock is insufficient to warrant speeding up the vaccine campaign.”
The DGHS initially set up facilities to administer about 350,000 vaccines a day when the vaccination campaign began on February 7. However, if a push came to shove, the country could even ensure administering 700,000 vaccines a day, he said.
“Bangladesh can administer around 950,000 diphtheria vaccines to forcibly displaced refugees from Myanmar in a day. So capacity is not the problem,” Dr Robed Amin added.
“We estimated that about 200,000 people can be vaccinated at 1,080 vaccination centres, but that does not include union parishad-level facilities. If all the health facilities are included, we will have around 7,500 vaccination centres and can vaccinate around 700,000 people a day,” he further said.
When are we getting the vaccines?
Bangladesh has so far received 10.3million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute of India – 7 million doses as part of contractual shipments and 3.3 million doses as gifts.
The SII is supposed to supply 30 million doses to Bangladesh as per the contract, but they have been unable to send consignments since late March as the vaccine doses were required to combat the pandemic in India.
According to the DGHS sources, Bangladesh has only about 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine remaining in stock, considering the doses administered and the wastage.
The country has received 3.1 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China, including 1.1 million doses as a gift and 2 million doses in the first contractual consignment.
Bangladesh is supposed to receive 15 million Sinopharm doses in monthly installments, as per the contract.
Under the Covax facility, Bangladesh also received 106,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 2.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine on Friday night and early Saturday.
According to Health Minister Zahid Maleque, Bangladesh is set to receive 63 million vaccine doses arranged by the Covax by December. Besides, 70 million doses will come from Johnson & Johnson in the first quarter next year.