To be successful in vaccination, it is necessary to bring a large number of populations under vaccination in a short period of time.
This is because the hard immunity caused by the application of each vaccine sustains for a certain period of time. If the vaccination is done slowly, the antibody that will be produced in the vaccinated persons will be destroyed before the antibody is produced in other people.
In the United States, the influenza vaccine is given every year, since the virus mutates from year to year. The coronavirus also is changing its nature rapidly. Therefore, applying the same vaccine for Covid-19 for several years will not be beneficial.
New types of coronavirus infections might occur before the vaccination with one type of vaccine is over. We must achieve the capacity to vaccinate at least 50 lakh people with two doses of Covid vaccine a month.
Our Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) can handle 1.5 crore vaccines in 5-6 weeks. They will not be able to handle more vaccines than this.
Considering their ability, they will be able to give 9 crore vaccines in the entire year of 2021. With this capability, it is expected to take four to five years to vaccinate about 14 crore people. If that is the case, there will be no benefit.
Therefore, necessary preparations need to be completed now to meet the existing shortage of vaccinations. Otherwise, the situation will be such that vaccines will be surplus in Dhaka, but it will not be available in many other districts. This is because many districts do not have a cold chain or storage capacity for vaccines.
If people in all the districts cannot be vaccinated at the same time, it will not be of any use in building hard immunity. In Covid-19 infections may increase in districts where it will not be possible to provide adequate vaccines, which will result in spreading the infection across the country. Initially, vaccination should be conducted at least in all the district towns at the same time.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine needs to be stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius, which can be kept in the normal part of refrigerators used in homes. The normal part of those refrigerators is usually used at a temperature of 4-5 degrees Celsius. The deep part of those fridges usually store products at a temperature of minus 20 degrees Celsius. Moderna's vaccines can be stored at minus 20 degrees Celsius.
The Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at a temperature of minus 70 degrees Celsius. Ultra-low freezers are needed to store this type of vaccine. This type of freezer is not in the EPI. The ICDDRB and several private hospitals in Bangladesh have about 100 such freezers.
Prof Ijaz Hossain, a professor of Buet, spoke to Abul Kashem over the phone.