Spirits had been buoyant in Bangladesh as well as the rest of the world thinking the Covid-19 tsunami had calmed down. After all these months of rapid spread of infection and resultant deaths, the curves had gone down.
But the illusion is once again broken with the lines rising up again and at a faster rate that led US CDC Director Rochelle Walensky calling the situation an "impending doom".
Much of Europe has again locked down. In the US, new variants are once again sweeping through, leaving trails of havoc. India is in a no better position. And all this despite vaccination pace speeding up across the globe.
Bangladesh also had several factors to back its hope – it had successfully started vaccination programme and is one of the fastest vaccinating countries; it had previously had a very high infection rate, as high as over 20% for several days at a stretch, meaning that a large segment of the population had already got infected and developed antibody; and that the hot summer was here to remind the earlier warnings of the pundits that coronavirus spreads faster in cold weather.
But the virus defied all this and has started circulating faster than ever, probably carrying mutations, as has it around the world, that make the germ more contagious and deadlier.
Already new variants have appeared faster than scientists had predicted. In Bangladesh, the UK and South African variants have already been detected but not studied to see how fast they are spreading with what devastating effect probably because the detection through a special infusion process is quite costly. Consider that the US has allocated $200 million to analyse 25,000 patient samples each week for virus variants.
The South African variant just as the Brazil one is worrisome because it carries traits that bypass the immune system to defeat vaccines.
And scientists are worried about more variants appearing that may make the available vaccines ineffective, which is why Devi Sridhar, a professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, has said: "We don't have evolution on our side. This pathogen seems to always be changing in a way that makes it harder for us to suppress."
Actually, these mutations are coming faster than predicted. Any virus is supposed to mutate over time and the more infections occur the faster the variants appear. But it was also said that as time drags on, viruses become weak and mild. But none of these happened in case of Covid-19. Rather the variants identified in the UK, Brazil, South Africa and California – all have emerged as a greater threat to humanity.
One special mutation called E484K has been of peak concern as it is available in many variants that make them more resistant to vaccines by altering the protein spikes in the virus. The Oxford vaccine that is being used in Bangladesh has been found to be even less effective against this mutation than Pfizer or Moderna ones.
So when the Covid-19 pandemic situation is such, and vaccination programmes are varied among nations, economic recovery will diverge from nation to nation.
This is why IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Tuesday said the fund expects a "multi-speed" recovery.
"While the outlook has improved overall, prospects are diverging dangerously," she said last week. "Vaccines are not yet available to everyone and everywhere. Too many people continue to face job losses and rising poverty. Too many countries are falling behind."