Tuesday, 17 May, 2022

Goodbye or Living with Covid-19?

  • Dr. Akhter Hussain
  • 4th April, 2022 04:02:53 PM
  • Print news

It seems that the whole world including Bangladesh is gradually opening up as the Covid-19 led deadly pandemic is seemingly subsiding. However, many of the countries of the world are still continuing with the stringent measures to contain the spread of the virus. Some European countries, especially Germany, is still combating with the high rate of Covid-19 infections. China has imposed lockdown in Shanghai due to the resurgence of infections. However, even though the pandemic situation has significantly improved, the majority of the European countries continue to keep travel restrictions in place. Germany, Portugal, and Poland are among the countries that apply different rules to non-EU travellers. On the other hand, other countries, such as Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, and Finland, apply the same rules for all travellers.

The first known case of Covid-19 virus caused infection was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. From then on, it started spreading at lightning speed to other parts of the world. In fact, no country could escape the onslaught of the deadly virus. As the world then did not have any vaccine or any known treatment protocol to treat the infection, it caused enormous sufferings and deaths of millions of people in different countries. Bangladesh like all other countries of the world also became susceptible to Covid-19 infections. Initially like all other countries, Bangladesh was also ill prepared to combat the virus. There were gaps in many areas particularly like treatment related knowledge, logistics and needed infrastructure or hospital facilities. However, with time the situation improved for the better. There was initial hiccup in getting newly developed vaccines. Later, the situation improved due to the support and cooperation of different international agencies and countries particularly, like COVAX/Gavi and India, China and the USA. Besides the international assistance, according to a source, Bangladesh has already spent U.S. $2.3 billion to acquire COVID-19 vaccines since last February and has fully vaccinated more than half of its total targeted population of 120 million so far. According to the Health Directorate, Bangladesh has administered COVID-19 vaccines produced by Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna, and China’s Sino Pharm and Sinovac. It is estimated that more than 111million people have so far received at least a single dose of the vaccine. However, the number is ever increasing as the vaccination drive is continuing in the country.

As stated earlier, the world is gradually doing away with various restrictions imposed to combat the spread of the virus. The vaccines have done wonders especially in reducing fatalities and hospitalization due to corona infection. The other factors responsible for opening up have been the economic downturn especially because lock down has taken enormous toll on the economies and livelihoods and also had adverse effects on the socio-psychology of the people across the world. Due to Covid-19 the world came to a standstill and people in most cases stranded at homes to escape the deadly virus infection. Countries of the world became isolated islands as all most all physical communications were snapped or suspended. In fact, only the telecommunication and digital communication remained operational and these served both internal and international needs and requirements. From the middle of the last year, news of the development of Covid-19 vaccines was coming on to the world media. The next few months saw the approval process going on to administer the vaccines. Once the approvals from the relevant authorities were obtained the vaccines were started to be administered to humans to protect them from the virus infection. This was the beginning of the process of normalization of human activities amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it may be noted that the developed countries were the first to administer vaccination on a mass scale due to comparatively easy access to vaccines. On the other hand, developing countries due to resource constraints and limited availability, in the initial phase, struggled to obtain the vaccines.

However, with time, situation improved and vaccines started to reach the people of the resource poor countries. These led to the improvement of the pandemic situation. The virus infection rate dropped or subsided in almost all the countries with the exception of only a few countries of the world. Now all most all the countries have opened up fully though some international travel restrictions are still being there. It appears that within the next couple of months all restrictions are going to be discarded and the world is expected to look again like the pre Covid-19 days. However, experts are of the opinion that the Covid-19 virus is going to stay there and become a part of our lives. New variants of the virus will still pose threat to human lives in countries across the world. But with vaccination, we can avoid mass infections and fatalities experienced in the last two years.

Bangladesh on her part has done quite well in combating the pandemic. Many a time, stringent measures like complete lockdown had to be imposed to save lives. These restrictions have taken heavy toll on the livelihoods of an enormous number of the people. The government on her part took a number of measures to protect the people as well as their livelihood and rolled out a massive rescue package for the low-income groups, businesses and industries. These have helped Bangladesh economy to continue to be on the growth path whereas most of the countries growth rates registered in the negative. After the complete opening up of the country and doing away with most of the restrictions of various kind the economy is doing for the better and very well on the path of recovery as mentioned by national as well as different international agencies and organizations. In Bangladesh, now the Covid-19 virus infection rate is hovering around one percent or less but situation still remains uncertain as could be observed from the experiences of resurgence of the virus in many countries. Still then, it seems that Bangladesh has come out of the deadly onslaught of the virus infections thanks to the mass vaccination program successfully led by the government. But we need to be ever vigilant and keep things ready at hand to deal with any renewed resurgence of the virus on a mass scale. It needs to be remembered that in the future we are to live with Covid-19 virus.

(The different sources of information are acknowledged with gratitude)

The writer is a Professor, Department of Public Administration, University of Dhaka

Source: daily sun (Editorial)