The Financial Express

Covid-19: Still no ray of hope  

| Updated: April 13, 2021 22:03:36

Covid-19: Still no ray of hope   

As reports quoting the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) say more than half the country's 64 districts have already become high-risk due to the alarming rise in Covid-19 prevalence, it is now high time the authorities stared the pandemic in the face. Since the first detected corona fatality in March, 2020, what has dominated the scene is blatant dawdling. It has been accompanied by foot-dragging on the part of the people when it comes to following the mandatory health guidelines. To add to the pandemic dread, people in the vast swathes of the rural area still believe they are out of the path of Covid-19. Pandemic experts fear this resigned mood is set to evaporate soon, given the frenzied village-bound rush of people from the corona-dominant Dhaka and other cities.  

Thanks to the lax character of the present countrywide lockdown, pandemic experts see no let-up in the continually worse turn of the Covid-19 situation. A most alarming development which has lately been detected is the presence of the dreaded South African virus variant in Dhaka. As per an icddr,b study, the variant became the most prevalent during the 3rd week of March, 2021. According to IEDCR data, Dhaka district accounts for over half the Covid-19 cases of the country. It added that the virus has already spread alarmingly to the country's other parts. An unsettling component of the IEDCR study is the number of high-risk districts has jumped from 10 to 38 in mere two weeks (March 17-30). Meanwhile, the second-dose vaccination is underway after its start on April 8. As has been found out by different media outlets, the enthusiasm encountered in cities over the Covid-19 vaccination is still veritably absent in far-flung, remote rural areas. The fact that a large segment of the population remains unvaccinated poses a great risk to the country's health infrastructure in these terrible times.

Of the many myths surrounding the raging Covid-19 in Bangladesh, the dominant one relates to the pandemic sparing the rural areas. In spite of the authorities' initiatives to have people inoculated, and assigning medical volunteers to do the job, the vaccine centres remained mostly vacant. The plausible explanation for this strange behaviour could be the innocent villagers being duped into feeling scared of the vaccines' numerous side-effects. There could be rumours which are blatant falsehoods. Be that as it may, large areas of rural Bangladesh still remain out of the ambit of the government's vaccination programme. The sad aspect of the matter is the authorities' overlooking the deficiency or not attaching much importance to it. This eludes credulity. A nationally critical programme involving public health cannot bypass the vast rural areas. Perhaps to make amends, the health authorities are said to have started shedding focus anew on rural vaccination.

Instances of avoiding Covid-19 vaccines in the urban areas are also not too small. Even people in the educated sections in Dhaka have been seen adopting the stance of 'wait and see'. The news of 'brain clots' after taking the AstraZeneca vaccine has been blamed for this disinterest. Vaccine experts have, however, termed the jabs largely hazard-free. Against this seemingly confused backdrop, there are few pragmatic ways out except launching a well-orchestrated campaign against the pandemic's fast spread. A shortcoming besetting Bangladesh is a single vaccine-type being used against a number of viral variants. It has led to doubts about the vaccine's eventual efficacy. These doubts should be dispelled forthwith.    

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