DHAKA (THE DAILY STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - It is a highly welfare-oriented and beneficial move by the government to provide the first thirty million doses of Covid-19 vaccine free of cost.
The issue has been in the works for some time and it was in early November that the government signed a trilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for procuring thirty million doses. The government should be complimented for this decision.
However, in this regard, we would like to put forward a few suggestions for the government's consideration.
The vaccine should pass all necessary tests for administration on humans. And the timing of procurement is of the essence since we are in the throes of a second wave of the pandemic with the total number of affected people rising every day.
We would hope that the trials would overcome the snags being encountered now. We would also like to recall the assurances of the administration that everyone in Bangladesh would be provided with the vaccine free once it is made available.
We are sure that the government would push the prime minister's call to the international community that countries like Bangladeshi should be given the vaccine free of cost.
We recall the Health Services Division secretary's comment in July that Bangladesh would be among the first to get any Covid-19 vaccine developed in any country across the world, and that countries with a per capita income of less than US$4,000 (S$5,348) would get the vaccine free of cost. Bangladesh falls in that category.
What is also important is to immediately prepare the priority list of people who should be vaccinated against the virus.
We shall leave it to the administration to determine who those will be, but would hope that the vulnerability factor would predominate all other considerations.
It is also important to exercise honest and strict monitoring. Given our experience of misuse, pilferage and stealing of government grants of cash and kind even during the pandemic, we cannot but be wary of such dishonest conduct being replicated in the future, in case of vaccine distribution.
Not only should the list of free recipients be doubly verified, the task of distributing and administering the vaccine should also be entrusted with agencies in which the public have faith.
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