Published:  02:01 AM, 10 January 2021

Experts call for vaccine transparency

Researchers and doctors have stressed transparency in every step of COVID-19 vaccination and urged the government to make sure the first doses reach the people who need them the most. They warn that the entire campaign may go awry if the first phase of inoculations is sullied by a trust deficit.
The authorities must work carefully so that the people do not feel deprived of vaccine doses, said Professor Sayedur Rahman, chairman of the Department of Pharmacology at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University or BSMMU.

Speaking at a dialogue on vaccine in Dhaka on Saturday, he said, "The success of vaccination depends on transparency." He said that reaching out to the people more about the vaccine would increase its acceptability, reports"It must be given to people who are really at risk, and also those who are providing healthcare for the people at risk. Then it will be given to those who are at lower risk."

The Directorate General of Drug Administration has approved the import and emergency use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.Bangladesh has so far confirmed 30 million doses of the vaccine developed by the UK's University of Oxford and drugmaker AstraZeneca.Its manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, is expected to deliver the first batch of doses within a month from the approval by Bangladesh, according to Beximco Pharmaceuticals, the sole distributor of the vaccine in the country.

It means the vaccine doses are expected to arrive in the first week of February. India is beginning the vaccine drive on Jan 16.Bangladesh also expects 68 million doses of vaccines, including 25 million doses by June, from the global alliance GAVI under the COVAX programme led by the World Health Organisation.

As Bangladesh awaits the vaccines, Bangladesh Health Reporters Forum organised the dialogue where Prof Sayedur said in the keynote speech that the people would not accept the vaccine if the priority groups for the jabs were not fixed scientifically.Rashid-E-Mahbub, former president of Bangladesh Medical Association, criticised the health ministry's preparations for the vaccine drive.

"It appears that the health ministry is not working transparently. I don't understand what they think. The nation suffered earlier for their mismanagement and I think they will make us suffer again in future," he said.The influential people are taking advantage of quotas for the coronavirus tests, while the ordinary people are struggling with the tests, the doctor said.

Mahbub also thinks the government should make it clear how it will register the people for vaccination through a mobile phone app or a website.Meerjady Sabrina Flora, an additional director general of health, who joined the dialogue via video call, said the government planned to immunise the health workers first because they are most vulnerable to infection. Those at higher risk of death have also been prioritised in the plan, she said.

The government is also working on online registration and the creation of an app, and training of the workers who will administer the doses, she said.Sabrina Flora said that the government will publish all information about the vaccination drive and conduct campaigns to remove confusions.She also said they have considered steps to tackle the side effects of vaccines.

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