What should be the role of the DGHS in this situation?
At this moment, the most important is analysing the pattern of transmission. There will be several issues in the analysis. First, we have to find out which strain of the virus is spreading the most. It will determine the level of damage the new strain may cause. It will also determine the severity of the risk that the new strain possesses and how fast it will spread. It will enable us to take actions accordingly.
Second, we also have to analyse the data of the people contracting the virus now. We have to collect various sorts of information including their age and vaccine status. If it is found that most of those who have contracted the virus in recent times have not been vaccinated or have taken one or two doses or have not taken the booster dose, then we should place emphasis on the vaccination drive. People should be encouraged to get vaccinated.
And, if people are found to be contracting the virus even after taking the booster dose, we should stress on ‘isolation’ and wearing masks. Contracting the virus even after taking the booster dose, confirms that the vaccine is not effective against the new strain.
Third, an area-wise analysis shall be done as well. If it is found that the people in Dhaka are contracting the virus more, then Dhaka shall be prioritised. However, importance shall be given to other parts of the country too.
How much time it may take to complete these analyses?
Analysis of the pattern of the new strain of the virus, data of the infected people and other relevant factors can be done in a day. We are already late. These analyses should be completed as soon as possible.
Effective action should be taken quickly based on the results of the analysis. Otherwise it will be difficult to contain the rate of transmission.
In addition to analysis, it is also necessary to detect the source of the variant. We have to see whether the new variant came from abroad or within the country.
Which variants of the coronavirus are currently infecting people the most in the world at the moment?
Currently people are contracting a sub-variant of Omicron the most now. The existence of the new variant in the country was detected in a research by Jashore University of Science and Technology . The transmission rate of this variant is quite high in India and Pakistan particularly.
Is there any chance of decline in the Covid situation of the country again?
The coronavirus transmission rate in the country may increase four to five times during Eid-ul-Azha if effective measures are not taken through rapid analysis.
*This interview appeared on the online version of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu