Bangladesh on track to reach global Covid vaccine targets

DGHS hopes to complete the target by March of 2022

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Bangladesh is well on track to reach the global Covid-19 vaccination targets, having vaccinated at least 95,895,302 people with the first dose. 

Bangladesh’s vaccination situation changed in just four months, as it made it to the list of countries meeting the vaccination targets set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

According to the Strategy to Achieve Global Covid-19 Vaccination by mid-2022, the WHO targets vaccinating 70% of the population of all countries by the middle of 2022. 

Only last September, Bangladesh was categorized as a country not on track for the vaccine target, according to an ourworldindata.org report.

Back then, only India, Maldives and Nepal were on track among south Asian countries, while Bhutan was the only country in the region to ensure vaccination of over 70% of its population.

However, Bangladesh and Pakistan joined the wagon recently, while media reports expressed reservations about neighbouring India meeting the target. 

Moreover, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan are yet to get on track to meet the target. 

Dr Shamsul Haque, member secretary of Vaccine Deployment Committee, said that although WHO had fixed the target for mid-2022, the DGHS was hoping to meet the target by March this year.

“After that we will go for booster doses for more people and if possible, more people will be brought under the net following WHO instructions,” he said.     

According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), up until January 26, the country administered first doses to 95,895,302 people while 60,099,410 got both the doses.  

Bangladesh began administering booster doses across the country from December 28, inoculating as many as 1,338,119 people.

According to the Vaccine Deployment Committee, Bangladesh received some 240,946,940 doses till January 20 this year. Among them, 157,332,831 doses have been administered. 

Although Dhaka Tribune was unable to verify the figures, according to media reports, some 7 million doses of vaccines have so far been wasted. 

EPI sources have cited receiving fewer doses of vaccines, change of colour in some vials, vaccinating a fewer number of people than the vial’s doses, problems while making a solution and accidents like slipping from the hand of the vaccine providers are the main reasons for the wastage.   

The DGHS data showed that excluding the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the only single dose vaccine received by the country, the health authorities have enough vaccines to vaccinate some 20,240,433 people. 

While there is enough stock, including the Johnson & Johnson vaccines to inoculate 20,577,783 more people, the government is undecided on whom to administer the single-dose vaccines. 

However, according to data, Bangladesh would need some 10 million doses of vaccines to reach the target of vaccinating 120 million people.

Moreover, the government has started administering booster doses to people aged 50 or above and the front liners. 

According to the latest data of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), there are some 29 million people in the country aged above 50. As the country has only administered booster doses to 1.3 million people, the need for the booster dose stood at around 25 million doses more.

The health authorities, however, said it would not be a problem as the government had already arranged for the vaccines.

Health Minister Zahid Maleque on December 29 last year told the media that although the government had estimated a need of 280 million doses of vaccines to vaccinate 70% of the population, including booster doses, it had already ensured a supply of 310 million doses.

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