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Hope to fight back COVID-19

2021-06-12, 8:57am Columns

M Zahidul Haque (2)-08975e9684c35c15d8ef92f650ae2e7b1623466635.jpg

M Zahidul Haque

M Zahidul Haque
People all over the world were hopeful that the COVID-19 causing coronavirus  SARS-CoV-2 would stop its hike in 2020, the year following the emergence of the virus in the Wuhan city of China in 2019. But all the hopes were shattered when the world witnessed the SARS-CoV-2 more violently infecting humans through rolling on its spikes. The number of the infected and the dead terribly increased due to COVID-19 infection. There is hardly anyone who didn’t lose at least one from among his/her near and dear ones in the corona pandemic. People with stabbing pain had to say ‘adieu’ to their dear family members including parents, siblings. In many cases for fear of being contaminated by COVID-19, they couldn’t even pay last homage to their dearest ones in person. This had drawn a very gloomy shadow over the minds of people causing despondency. But people are hopeful to win victory over their fight against COVID-19.
Man lives on hope. Hope inspires a man to fight back odds in life. With the development and subsequent approval of certain COVID-19 vaccines by the UNWHO, people resumed weaving of new hope to get back to normal life through vaccination. But a major problem arouses, that is, non-availability of sufficient doses of vaccine to inoculate a large number of folk at a time. In Bangladesh, AstraZeneca vaccines from India were administered but with the aggressive increase in SARS-CoV-2 in India plus government ban on the export of vaccines, the Serum Institute of India expressed their inability to deliver already ordered vaccines to Bangladesh. As a result, a huge number of recipients of AstraZeneca first dose vaccine were thrown into uncertainty of receiving their prescribed second dose within the stipulated time. However, the Government of Bangladesh is trying hard to procuring the required number of AstraZeneca vaccine doses from country/concerns to dispense the second dose to the remaining first dose recipients. The United States has recently assured that they will provide AstraZeneca vaccines to Bangladesh. China is also supplying a sufficient quantity of COVID-19 vaccines to Bangladesh. It is hoped that soon enough vaccines will be available in the country to vaccinate all the people.
The COVID-19 vaccines passed for emergency use by the World Health Organization are said to be safe. But some side and after-effects of vaccines are reportedly causing some problems, for instance, one of the side effects reported on being inoculated by the AstraZeneca vaccine is—blood clot. But it has also been found that the COVID-19 coronavirus itself causes blood clotting in certain cases where individual’s immune system is weak or compromised. Some recipients of Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine within the age group of 16-30 years in Israel have reportedly suffered Myocarditis (inflammation of heart muscles) after having the second dose. However, the manufacturer is investigating the issue. Again, as a post-COVID effect, some people are suffering from a new complication from ‘Black Fungus’ (Mucormycosis).
Meanwhile, it is expected that the problems would soon be overcome through appropriate and integrated research.
One thing is evident that the vaccine producing countries are more inclined to provide vaccines to their friendly countries. Then there is the serious limitation of resources including technical knowledge, infrastructure and financial backup. People are getting frustrated in the self-prisoned life. Children are the worst sufferers of the restricted life with no outing, no playing, no travelling, and no visit to relation’s houses. Life under the pandemic situation is adversely affecting the psychology and sociology of younger people.
Perhaps the educational institutions should be re-opened strictly following the health and hygiene guidelines. The educational institutions in advanced countries have started re-opening. But the risk is still there particularly in less developed and highly populated countries. There is doubt whether all people would abide by the health instructions to a greater extent. In practice, many people are reluctant to wear masks, following hand hygiene, avoiding gatherings. Only wearing masks and washing hands can protect us from getting infected by COVID-19.
The present fear concentrates around the mutated hybrid variants of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, nomenclatured by the WHO as ‘Delta’ variant. It may be mentioned here that the World Health Organization has named all the COVID-19 variants with Greek alphabets, for example: Alpha for UK variant, Beta for South African variant, Gamma for Brazil variant and Delta for Indian variant.
The Delta is a combination of UK and India COVID-19 variants. It’s now a variant of concern. Presently in Bangladesh 80% and in Britain 61% of the COVID-19 variants detected are ‘Delta’ variant which is more rapidly transmissible than contemporary lineage. Delta is also capable of reducing the efficacy of the existing COVID-19 vaccines.
Whatever the constraints, efforts must be continued to bring down the rate of infection by coronavirus wild and mutated variants to zero. This author feels that countries should create their respective facilities for manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines locally through transfer of production technology by the vaccine producing countries. This measure can effectively help in controlling the hike of coronavirus. And this will also ensure equal distribution of COVID-19 vaccines regionally.
It may be mentioned here that India has developed COVID-19 production facilities within the country. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has initiated production of local COVID-19 -‘Hyat-vax’ under the technical assistance of China. Even Pakistan has also undertaken a venture with China to go on production of its local COVID-19 vaccine-‘PakVac’ in July. It may be mentioned here that a local company named Globe Biotech Limited of our country have developed an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine—‘Bangavax’ which is reportedly awaiting government clearance for its first clinical trial. The Government of Bangladesh is also made progress in its endeavour of setting COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing plants under foreign collaboration.
It is strongly hoped that Bangladesh would soon achieve its victory over the war against COVID-19. Now it’s only a matter of time!
(The author is a professor at Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Dhaka)