Govt. sincerely working to get COVID-19 vaccine: Maleque

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DHAKA, Aug 24, 2020 (BSS) – Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque today said the government is intensifying its efforts to collect COVID-19 vaccines from the countries, which are in final stage of vaccine development.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is constantly overseeing global development of coronavirus vaccine… Some countries including the UK, China, Russia, the USA and India are in the advanced stage of COVID-19 vaccine development race,” he told a function at his ministry here, an official release said.

Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, Post, Telecom and ICT Minister Mustafa Jabbar and senior officials of the ministry, among others, were present at the function.

At the function, medical equipment and treatment materials of COVID-19 were handed over by Taiwan External Trade Development Council to the relevant organizations of the health ministry.

Maleque said the government will examine qualities of vaccines before applying to human bodies to get recovery from the deadly virus.

Bangladesh is successfully handling COVID-19 pandemic through taking prompt preventive measures to contain the spread of the deadly virus, he said, adding the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been taking multiple measures to halt the outbreak of coronovirus in the country.

The health minister said, “There are three COVID-19 tests — PCR test, antigen test and rapid antibody test. But PCR test is the most effective one to determine coronavirus positive. We are still conducting PCR tests to ensure authenticity of coronavirus presence in human body.”

The government is mulling introduction of antigen test as part of its efforts for widening testing facilities to fight COVID-19 pandemic, he added.

As part of taking preventive measures to stop imported cases of COVID-19, the authorities of all gateways, including airports, land ports and waterways, are continuing screening of all foreign returnees since the first COVID-19 positive cases were reported in the country on March 8,Maleque added.

He said 60 to 70 percent beds in COVID-19 dedicated hospitals are lying empty as the government has taken effective healthcare measures to treat coronavirus patients in the country.

“As burdens of COVID-19 patients have significantly reduced at coronavirus dedicated hospitals, we are mulling shifting of those hospitals to general ones for treatment of other diseases.”

The health ministry sources said many countries including China, the UK, the USA, Russia and India are in the final stage for vaccine development as they are performing phase-3 human trial of COVID-19 vaccine development.

If these countries are able to develop coronavirus vaccines, Bangladesh will get inoculations on priority basis, they said adding those countries with per capita income below 4000 US dollar will get vaccines for free. As per capita income of Bangladesh is below 2,000 US dollar, the country will get vaccine for free.