Bangladesh gearing up for yearly Covid-19 inoculation, says health minister

Bangladesh will start administering the oral cholera vaccine from the first week of May, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said on Friday.

In the first phase, people from the five diarrhoea-prone areas in Dhaka will be vaccinated against the bacterial disease usually spread through contaminated water.

The minister made the announcement after visiting Government Titumir College in Dhaka, which is holding the Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) admission test.

He urged all to get vaccinated against cholera “as after the initial stage, extensive vaccination against the disease will begin across the country”.

Responding to a query, the health minister said Bangladesh is gearing up for yearly inoculation of people against Covid-19.

“It is not confirmed yet if people need to be vaccinated every year against Covid-19, but we are preparing for it. Measures have been taken to produce the vaccine in the country,” he said.

The minister said 130 million Covid-19 jabs will be needed to vaccinate 130 million people against Covid-19 every year, “but the World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet taken a call on the same”.

“We have achieved success in Covid-19 vaccination. Now all vaccines will be produced in the country,” he said.

When asked about the recent report of Transparency International Bangladesh on an alleged discrepancy of around Tk23,000 crore in Covid-19 vaccine purchase and management, Maleque said: “I do not know anything about it yet. A press conference will be held soon after looking into it.”

The minister said a total of 65,905 students at 28 centres across the country are appearing for the public-private BDS admission test this year.

“The total number of seats are 1,950 this year. Of these, 545 are in government colleges. An average of 33 students are vying for one seat,” he added.

The second round of the mass Covid-19 vaccination drive, without any registration, has been extended by three more days till April 3.

Health Minister Zahid Maleque made the announcement on Thursday while handing the Health Minister’s National Award 2020 at the city’s Osmani Memorial Auditorium.

“To tackle the Covid-19 situation, so far 130 million first doses and 110 million second doses of vaccines have been administered bringing 96% of the targeted population under the campaign,” said the minister. 

“We still have 50 million vaccine doses in stock and have 60 million more in the pipeline. We have decided to extend the mass vaccination program to bring the remaining people under the campaign,” he said. 

Every year 47 awards are given under 10 categories of the Health Minister’s National Award. 

This year, 10 upazila hospitals, five district hospitals, three medical colleges, two specialized post-graduate institutes and hospitals, and eight upazila health complexes received the award.