The spread of coronavirus and the appearance of its new variants are creating new records every day. The speed of transmission is shocking, alarming. Compared to the 12th month of the contagion, the rate of transmission has gone up by 744 per cent in the 13th month and deaths by 280 per cent. This is only a partial picture. This is based only on the cases detected by means of testing. There is no way to determine the actual number of asymptomatic cases. But experts say the number of actually affected persons and the daily rate of infections are much higher.

According to IEDCR (Institute of Epidemiology Control and Research), 46 of the country’s 64 districts are at high risk of infection. The transmission curve is going up vertically and with the laxness of the so-called lockdown, there is no telling of how long this trend will continue.

There has been inadequate genome sequencing in our country so far. This must be increased immediately

What is the reason of this leap in transmission of the virus? One of the many reasons behind this is the rapid spread of the African variant of coronavirus in Bangladesh. Joint research of icddr,b, IEDCR and the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) indicates that 81 per cent of those contracting coronavirus between 18 to 24 March in the country, have been infected with the African variant.

This variant is much more infectious that the other strains. More worrisome is the fact that the vaccines manufactured so far are not that effective against this variant. And according to media reports on various research and studies, the AstraZeneca vaccine which is being used in our country is less effective in general. Added to that, the UK variants of coronavirus have also spread in Bangladesh. This is highly infectious too.

Under the circumstances, the hospitals in the country are under more pressure than ever before and the pressure is rising by the day. In the shortfall of oxygen and ICU facilities, the number of serious patients and deaths is also rising, Generally speaking, the Covid-related death rate is said to be 4 to 5 per cent. Bu in Bangladesh this is now 13.4 per cent. So just high infection rates are not our only problem, were are also faced with high rates of death. A large section of the affected persons are asymptomatic and many persons have recovered with general symptomatic treatment at home, but there is no longer any room for complacence in this regard. There is no scope to underestimate the contagion.

The problem is that this highly contagious virus is constantly mutating, impacting the efficacy of the vaccine. How to tackle such a formidable foe?

The first way is to make all-out efforts to maintain physical and social distance. This infection only spreads though human contact. That is why everyone must adhere to the basic rules of health and hygiene – avoiding crowds, wearing masks, using gloves and washing hands frequently. The second way is to take the vaccine to resist the virus.

In order to ensure the effectiveness of the vaccine, regular genome sequencing of all variants of the virus is essential in the country. These results must be sent on to the vaccine manufacturers so the vaccines can be adjusted accordingly. There has been inadequate genome sequencing in our country so far. This must be increased immediately.

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