Bangladesh trails behind South Asian countries in Covid-19 vaccination drive

Health workers vaccinate a man at BSMMU hospital
File photo

Bangladesh lags behind other South Asian countries in terms of mass inoculation against Covid-19. Among seven SAARC countries (excluding the Maldives), only Afghanistan has vaccinated a lesser percentage of its population than Bangladesh.

This picture of the vaccination programme has been revealed at a website launched on Friday by the task force on Covid-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics for developing countries, established by the heads of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization.

The website includes the first phase of a global database and country dashboards on vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to guide their work and advocacy.

The task force also issued a joint statement after its second meeting on Friday which reads, “We reiterate the urgency of providing access to Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments to people throughout the developing world. In the area of vaccines, a key constraint is the acute and alarming shortage in the supply of doses to low and low-middle income countries, especially for the rest of 2021.”

The joint statement called on countries with advanced Covid-19 vaccination programs to release as soon as possible as much of their contracted vaccine doses and options as possible to COVAX, AVAT, and low and low-middle income countries.

According to the website data, only 2.61 per cent of the population in Bangladesh is fully vaccinated. Bhutan fully vaccinated 61.71 per cent of its population while Sri Lanka vaccinated 9.31 per cent. A total of 7.24 per cent of India’s population has been fully vaccinated while Nepal vaccinated 5.32 per cent and Pakistan 2.67 per cent. Only Afghanistan, which vaccinated 0.56 per cent of its population, is trailing Bangladesh.

The website also showed data on the percentage of the population who received at least one dose of the vaccine. A total of 4.21 per cent of people of Bangladesh have received at least one dose. Bhutan leads in this category too as 63.02 per cent of its population received at least a dose of vaccine. Of India’s population, 25.81 received at least one dose of the vaccine while the percentages are 40.72 in Sri Lanka, 12.53 in Nepal, 4.2 in Pakistan and 1.9 per cent in Afghanistan.

According to the website, Bangladesh has so far received over 25.79 million doses of vaccine and it needs over 131.7 million more doses to vaccinate 40 per cent population.