With the country still trailing behind in the race to get the potential Covid-19 vaccines, a high-powered technical body advised the government to make payments in advance for the vaccines.
The National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC), formed to advise the government on its coronavirus response, recommended yesterday that the efforts to communicate with multiple potential vaccine sources should continue.
There are apprehensions that getting the vaccine from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations would take time, it said, adding that the government should boost its efforts.
"Some countries have already made advance payments because all the countries of the world are in a race to collect the vaccine… In this circumstance, Bangladesh needs to book the vaccine by making payments in advance," the committee said in a statement.
The countries where governments are involved in vaccine development should be contacted, the NTAC stressed.
The recommendations, made at the 19th online meeting of the committee yesterday with its chairperson Prof Mohammad Shahidullah presiding over it, came at a time when the country recorded 1,541 new coronavirus cases and 22 deaths.
With this, the number of cases rose to 345,805 and death toll to 4,881.
Bangladesh is all set to start the much-talked-about clinical trial of the Chinese shot by the end of this month.
The International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) will run the human trial of the potential vaccine, developed by China's Sinovac Life Sciences Co Ltd, on 4,200 healthcare professionals.
In yesterday's meeting, the experts discussed the government's Covid-19 tests, accommodation of medical professionals and awareness campaigns.
It also called upon the government to chalk out elaborate deployment plans on how to preserve and disseminate the vaccine.
It urged the government to keep in mind during procurement that some vaccines require a temperature-controlled supply chain to store, manage and transport.
There should also be arrangements for follow-up of any adverse reactions to the vaccine, the committee said.
It recommended including appropriate and skilled government organisations in the vaccines' trial process along with icddr,b. Institutions like Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research could be involved, it said.
RAMP UP COVID-19 TESTING
The committee said the number of tests was inadequate because they were done through RT-PCR facilities only.
"The committee believes that carrying out simultaneous PCR, antigen and antibody tests will play an important role in tackling the Covid-19 situation," said the committee.
"There is a possibility of detecting more infection if the number of Covid-19 tests is increased."
The NTAC urged the government to find the problems for which the number of tests has been falling recently. Increasing the testing facilities will give a clearer picture of the situation, it said.
The healthcare workers and their families are at risk of getting infected, it said, calling upon the government to arrange safe accommodation for the healthcare workers.
People seem to care little about maintaining health safety guidelines, it said and recommended intensifying awareness activities among people to ensure their active participation in the prevention of Covid-19.
The committee also advised the government to keep Durga Puja celebrations on a limited scale to contain further spread of the virus and urged people to maintain the health guidelines properly during the celebrations.
The Directorate General of Health Services on its online dashboard yesterday said 12,730 samples were tested across the country in 24 hours.
The death rate stood at 1.41 percent while the positivity rate was 12.11 percent.
However, the total positivity rate stands at 19.25 percent, it said.
Some 1,923 Covid-19 patients were reported recovered in 24 hours taking the total number of recoveries to 2,52,335 and the recovery rate to 72.97 percent.
Among those reported dead yesterday 16 were male and six were female. Two were aged between 41 and 50 years, eight between 51 and 60 and 12 were above 60 years old.