Use of masks a must even after getting fully vaccinated

2nd dose of corona vaccine rolls out

Mohammad Al Amin

9 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

As Bangladesh rolled out the 2nd dose of Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday, health experts have said there is no alternative to maintaining health guidelines, including wearing masks, even after getting fully vaccinated to keep all protected from the pathogen.

They said people must adhere to health protocols as the actual efficacy of vaccines has not yet been confirmed, even a vaccinated person is not protected and he/she may transmit the virus to others.

According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) 81,323 people received their 2nd doses of the vaccine on Thursday while over 55.83 lakh people, including 14,804 on Thursday, have so far received their first shots.

Those who were administered the 1st doses on January 27 and 28 and February 7 and 8 received their 2nd shots.

The administering of both the doses with Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (Covishield) will continue simultaneously in the country, it said.

“It’s not possible to fight the coronavirus without maintaining health guidelines properly. People have to wear masks even after getting vaccinated to prevent the transmission. It’s still not sure how much protection the vaccine can provide against Covid-19,” Dr Nazrul Islam, a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19, told the Daily Sun.

He further said the ongoing worldwide vaccination programme is actually the 4th-phase trial of the vaccines developed by scientists of different countries as people who get the vaccines will remain under watch to observe the efficacy and accuracy of the vaccines and their side effects.

Prof Dr Tahmina Shirin, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), said one is considered vaccinated against Covid-19 after receiving his/her 2nd dose. “However, it takes 14 more days to develop antibody. People are not fully protected even after getting vaccinated.”

Considering the recent surge in Covid-19 cases, icddr,b researchers suggest that everyone should follow standard mitigation measures, including wearing masks properly, washing hands, maintaining physical distancing and avoiding gatherings, regardless of the previous infections, vaccination, or new variants.

A study of the icddr,b said a dramatic change in the distribution of variants was observed when the South African variant appeared. It became the most prevalent variant during the third week of March 2021 by replacing other variants. Most remarkably, the South African variant occupied 81 per cent of the variants in the fourth week of March 2021. The findings warrant continuous monitoring of genetic variations of SARS-CoV-2, which is crucial for vaccine effectiveness and patients management.

The icddr,b has also encouraged all to abide by the restrictions recently declared by the government.

Talking to the Daily Sun, IEDCR Principal Scientific Officer Dr ASM Alamgir said, “It’s not possible to vaccinate cent per cent people at a time. A person may carry and spread coronavirus even after being vaccinated. So, everyone has to wear masks and maintain other health rules properly even after receiving the jab.”

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina joining an event held at BPATC in Savar virtually on Thursday urged all to keep themselves protected and protect others following health rules, including the use of masks.

The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests maintaining at least a 1-metre distance between two persons to reduce the risk of infection when they cough, sneeze or speak, making wearing a mask a normal part of being around other people, regularly and thoroughly cleaning hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces frequently especially those which are regularly touched, avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth and covering mouth and nose with bent elbow or tissue during coughing or sneezing in a bid to keep self and others safe from Covid-19.

While several Covid-19 vaccines appear to have high levels of efficacy, no vaccine is cent per cent protective. As a result, there may be a small percentage of people who do not develop protection as expected after Covid-19 vaccination, according to WHO.

“In addition to a vaccine's specific characteristics, several factors such as a person's age, their underlying health conditions or previous exposure to Covid-19 may have an impact on a vaccine’s effectiveness. We also don’t yet know how long immunity from different Covid-19 vaccines will last. That is one reason why, even as Covid-19 vaccines start to be rolled out, we must continue using all public health measures that work, such as physical distancing, masks, and hand washing,” it added.

“We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of Covid-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, you should keep taking precautions—like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces—in public places until we know more,” said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

WHO says the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine or AZD1222 vaccine against Covid-19 has an efficacy of 63.09 per cent against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection. Longer dose intervals within 8-12 weeks range are associated with greater vaccine efficacy.

WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) recommends the use of AZD1222 vaccine according to the WHO Prioritization Roadmap, even if virus variants are present in a country.

Countries should assess the risks and benefits taking into consideration their epidemiological situation, it said.

Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla has said the Covishield vaccine, which is manufactured by the SII, is 90 per cent effective provided there is a two-three month gap in administering doses.

Bangladesh has so far reported 666,132 cases and 9,521 deaths from coronavirus. Record 74 people died in the last 24 hours till Thursday morning.