100 million doses need to be administered by December
The government is unlikely to meet its target of fully vaccinating 80 million people against Covid-19 by December if the nationwide vaccination campaign continues at the current rate.
Just over 20 million people had received both doses of the vaccine in the country till yesterday, while another 20 million people were waiting for the second dose. This means the government would need to administer 100 million doses between now and December to meet the target, which amounts to about 1.75 million doses each day.
However, the most doses the country has been able to administer per day in a month was 987,919 in September. The average number of doses administered per day was 123,893 in July, 535,590 in August, and 531,905 in October.
At a rate of 500,000 doses per day, the government would need 200 working days, or roughly seven months, to administer 100 million doses.
Health experts said the number of vaccines administered per day increased significantly from August as the government managed to secure enough vaccines to conduct mass inoculation drives. During the mass vaccination campaign to mark Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s 75th birthday in September, 6,758,992 vaccines were administered.
Virologist Dr Nazrul Islam, member of the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19, said the health authorities were making good progress but they would need to do better to meet their target.
It is unlikely that the country’s population will be fully vaccinated until the later part of next year, he added.
“It has to be kept in mind that we know very little about the efficiency period of the vaccines. If it takes a long time to vaccinate the whole population, first recipients might need the vaccine again before the program ends,” Dr Nazrul Islam warned.
He also said the government should not just rely on mass vaccination campaigns, stressing the need to boost regular vaccination capacity.
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Furthermore, the eminent virologist said he suspected there would be an upsurge in Covid-19 in March next year, and it was of critical importance that as many people were vaccinated as possible before then.
“We have many vaccines now and the government has said it has arranged more vaccines too. What we need to do is to ensure that people go to the vaccination centres more and increase vaccination capacity,” he added.
Neither Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) Director General Dr ABM Khurshid Alam nor spokespersons of the DGHS could be reached for comment yesterday.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque earlier this month said the government would have a stock of at least 37.5 million vaccine doses by November, while a further 50 million doses were set to arrive in December under the Covax facility and from China.