US’s CDC offers help for vaccine prioritisation in Bangladesh

The US health regulatory and research institute CDC has said it was willing to offer Bangladesh its expertise in fixing priority of potential anti-COVID-19 vaccine recipients, fearing the issue to emerge as a “major challenge” in coming days.

“We can help (Bangladesh) in different ways … if necessary we can help to figure out who need the first doses of vaccine,” Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC)country director in Dhaka Dr Michael Friedman told BSS in a recent interview.

A doctor and public health expert, Friedman said it was assumable that it would be difficult for Bangladesh to get more than one million of doses in first six months after any potential COVID vaccine would be available globally.
Therefore, he said, it was important to prepare the first round of vaccine-recipient list prioritizing who deserve the first access to the inoculate as Bangladesh never carried out any adult immunization programme despite its success in administering inoculates among children.

“Vaccination in children and adult is not the same,” Friedman said, adding the idea of vaccinating huge numbers of adults will be bit challenging.

He said healthcare workers should get the first vaccine doses and they could be followed by “essential security personnel” and key policymakers. “Our (CDC) role here is to help the government and policymakers in terms of this (vaccine distribution) process,” said the US public health expert.

He said the non-COVID vaccine-producing countries like Bangladesh might wait longer to get adequate quantum of vaccines which estimated to be over 15 billion doses across the globe, apart from the booster ones.

Friedman said the world requires over 15 billion of COVID vaccine doses, if entire global population, currently 7.8 billion, need to get at least two round doses of vaccine.

Referring to the three most promising potential COVID vaccines being developed by the US companies, he said their production capacities can cover less than 10 percent of world population in the first six months after getting approval.

Advising all to be “realistic” to get vaccine in a fast manner, the US public health expert feared that majority of the world population have to wait for a year to get vaccinated. “It could be more than a year,” he said.

He added Bangladesh can explore opportunities for more collaboration to produce vaccine to get enough vaccines amid global competition.

Lauding capacity and standard of Bangladesh pharmaceutical companies, Friedman, however, said producing vaccine has technical challenges and it takes time to build that capacity.

Bangladesh’s leading pharmaceutical company Beximco Pharma has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Serum Institute of India for priority delivery of 30 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Bangladesh.

The US expert also suggested that Bangladesh might also looking for potential Russian and Chinese vaccines to make its most vulnerable population, as much as possible, immune to COVID-19.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said the government has approached everywhere to get the COVID-19 vaccine once developed.

“We’ll bring it from wherever we get for the betterment of our people,” he told reporters on several occasions.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) advises that once a vaccine is shown to be safe and effective and authorized for use, all countries receive doses in proportion to their population size, albeit initially in reduced quantities.

The WHO in its “Fair allocation mechanism for COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX facility” proposal, said that 20 percent priority group of total population will get vaccine in the first phase.

The CDC has been working in Bangladesh for the last 50 years to strengthen the country’s capacity to detect emerging infectious diseases and provide training and other interventions to partners.

It has been maintaining collaboration with Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) of health ministry and International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) for enhancing global health security.

:BSS