AKM Shamsuzzaman, director, NILMRC added that Bangladesh needs to prepare for a Covid-19 immunisation programme
People have to adapt to the new way of life, a significant part of which is wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. Otherwise, infections and deaths from Covid-19 will spike again as is seen in other parts of the world.
From the analysis of infection and fatality rates in recent times, "we have observed a downward trend," said AKM Shamsuzzaman, director of the National Institute of Laboratory Medicine and Referral Centre (NILMRC)–the biggest novel coronavirus testing centre in the country.
The average infection rate against the number of samples tested in the past 10 days from August 28 to September 6 is around 16%, which is three percentage points less than the average infection rate over the previous 10 days.
However, the 10-day average death rate until Sunday is 1.39%, which is 0.06 percentage points higher than that over the previous 10 days.
Apart from samples collected from suspected Covid-19 patients, the test centre in the capital's Agargaon examines at least 600-700 samples a day from migrant workers who need clearance before flying abroad. From the results compiled, only 3% have been found to be asymptomatic positive cases.
"That again points to a low asymptomatic infection rate, meaning the virus transmission has diminished," he said.
"The government can rightly claim that the infection prevalence is low now. However, it can go up again if we are negligent to the preventive measures," he added.
The authorities concerned have already approved phase three trials of a Chinese vaccine.
"Even if we hold our hopes high that we will get a vaccine soon, we need to have some preparations done to undertake an immunisation programme," Shamsuzzaman argued.
As part of the preparations, an antibody surveillance programme should have been taken by now to find out how many have been infected, how many have developed immunity to the virus, and whether there is any chance of a re-infection.
"We are late on this," Shamsuzzaman observed.