Those getting infected after receiving the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine should take the second shot four to six weeks after recovery, health experts say.
As some people have contracted Covid-19 after taking the first dose, there is now confusion over when they can get the second dose or whether they should take two fresh doses.
Dr ASM Alamgir, principal scientific officer at the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, told The Business Standard that the second dose would be deferred for such patients but they would not need to worry about this as there would be no problem.
"They just need to inform their respective inoculation centres that they will receive the second dose later as they were infected after receiving the first dose," he explained.
Tests and detections increased in the country over the past few weeks. On Wednesday, 27,502 samples were tested, the highest in a single day so far, and 3,567 cases were detected.
On 2 July, 4,019 cases were detected, the highest in a single day so far, after testing 18,262 samples.
The first time more than 20,000 tests were done was on 16 March this year. Both tests and detections have been rising since then.
Dr Alamgir, who is also a member of the Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Core Committee, said contracting Covid-19 after taking the first dose and then taking the second shot would not reduce the level of protection against the virus.
"Rather, the antibody produced in such a person's body after being infected will act as a booster upon receiving the second dose."
Bangladesh kicked off its nationwide immunisation programme on 7 February. So far 50 lakh people have received their first doses. Some of them have been infected, but the health directorate has no data on these cases.
Infection after immunisation 'not unusual'
Health experts say getting infected with Covid-19 even after being immunised is not unusual.
According to them, vaccines that have been developed so far slow down the spread of the virus and reduce the death rate as well as infection-led organ failures, but cannot completely prevent getting infected.
They renewed their call for maintaining virus safety measures strictly even after inoculation.
None of the Covid vaccines developed so far offers 100% immunity.
Professor Nazrul Islam, noted virologist and a member of the national technical advisory committee on Covid-19, told The Business Standard that some people are getting infected after inoculation perhaps because the first dose did not get the time to produce enough antibodies.
They should take a second dose a few days after recovery, he said.
Nazrul said those getting infected after immunisation should not decide to not take the second dose.
He said taking two doses would provide protection against the virus. "Otherwise, there is a risk of re-infection."
Over 3,500 daily infections for two consecutive days
Infection is still rising steeply in the country, with 3,567 newly reported active cases in the last 24 hours till 8am on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Bangladesh reported 3,554 new cases.
Besides, the country's death toll from the virus now stands at 5,838 with 25 newly reported deaths on Wednesday, said a press release issued by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
The number of cases in the country is now 5,80,808.
The daily infection rate saw a drop on Wednesday as 12.97% of the tested population came out positive. On Tuesday, the country witnessed a significant rise in infections as 13.69% of the tested population came out positive.
The infection rate was 11.19% on Monday.
Public gatherings must be reduced: Health minister
Health Minister Zahid Maleque on Wednesday said public gatherings and events must be reduced to control the spread of Covid-19.
"Cases have increased due to gatherings at social events, including travelling, picnics, and religious ceremonies in public places. This has to be stopped and the public presence must be reduced," he said while addressing a press briefing at the Secretariat.
He said mobile courts would conduct regular raids and fine people if hygiene rules are not followed.
The minister said the government is increasing the number of beds for coronavirus patients again and at least five new hospitals have been declared dedicated Covid-19 hospitals.
Outside Dhaka, local health authorities in Gazipur, Tongi, and Keraniganj have also been instructed to increase the capacity of Covid-19 units, said Zahid.
But these measures would seem insufficient if the infection rate remains unchanged, he said.
The minister reiterated that vaccination does not ensure 100% safety.
He said it was a misconception among people that only vaccination would be enough to prevent infection.
"But it just boosts resistance and immunity, and decreases the chance of infection. You can be infected even if you get vaccinated. So, follow the hygiene rules," added the minister.