Mass vaccination drive begins in Bangladesh

A nurse vaccinates a person at Shaheed Suhrawardy Hospital in DhakaFile photo

As the ruthless Delta variant of Covid-19 keeps spreading like wildfire, Bangladesh on Saturday kicked off another phase of its mass vaccination drive aimed at inoculating 3.5 million (35 lakh) people in six days, reports news agency UNB.

Covid jabs will be administered simultaneously in 4,600 unions, 1,054 municipality areas and 433 wards of the city corporations, Director General of Health Services ABM Khurshid Alam told the media on Friday.

With a fresh stock of Covid-19 vaccine doses in hand, the government’s aim is to inoculate 80 per cent of its population, with each getting two doses administered.

Some 32,706 vaccinators and 48,459 volunteers have been roped in to make the vaccine drive a success.

Those above 25 years of age will be vaccinated, but priority would be given to the elderly, the women and physically-challenged persons, said Khurshid.

“Some 35 lakh (3.5 million) people will be vaccinated and those living in inaccessible remote areas will also be brought under the ambit of the drive,” he said.

Campaign timeline and areas

On 7 August, the vaccination campaign kicked off in all union, municipality and city corporation areas.

Between 8 and 9 August, jabs will be given to the residents of the excluded wards of unions and municipal areas where already the campaign was underway.

Between 10 and 12 August, Rohingya refugees above 55 years will get the Covid jabs.

Since the inauguration of the mass inoculation drive in Bangladesh on 7 February this year, some 4,443,517 people have been fully vaccinated with two shots and 14,733,314 people have received the first dose.

Earlier in April, the government was forced to suspend administering the first dose of the Covid vaccine after the Indian government deferred the shipment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to Bangladesh.

On 13 December, 2020, Bangladesh signed a deal with the Serum Institute of India to purchase 30 million (3 crore) doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and the country was supposed to receive five million (50 lakh) doses a month as per the deal.

Referring to the health ministry, foreign minister AK Abdul Momen on Thursday said that Bangladesh has a stock of 12.3 million (1.23 crore) vaccine doses and some of them (Oxford-AstraZeneca) will be kept for the second dose.

He further said that Bangladesh will receive another consignment of 3.4 million (34 lakh) doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine next week and six million (60 lakh) doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the first week of September.

Covid situation in Bangladesh

Bangladesh recorded 248 more deaths due to Covid-19 on Friday, up from 212 logged a week earlier.

The country has been reporting over 200 single-day fatalities for the past two weeks as it races to head off a surge in Covid-19 cases driven by the unrelenting Delta variant.

After weathering the first wave of the virus, Bangladesh’s health services are now stretched dangerously thin.

The Covid-19 infections are on the rise, with 13,771 – 95 per cent of the peak – new cases being reported on an average every day.

Bangladesh recorded 12,606 new cases on Friday after testing 48,015 samples, down from 13,862 logged a week earlier on 30 July.

The country so far could detect 1,335,260 people with infections and 22,150 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began, according to the Directorate General of Health Services.