Covid-19 may no longer be a serious health threat to Bangladesh as the country has already achieved herd immunity against the virus with the widespread infections of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, say experts.
Though there is no credible study and serosurvilnce report here to know about the immunity developed among people across Bangladesh, the medical analysts think the virulent Omicron acted like a natural vaccine infecting most population in the country, helping build the herd immunity.
Talking to UNB, leading public health experts Dr Bijon Kumar Sil, Prof Muzaherul Huq and Dr Be-Nazir Ahmed said any new variant of the virus can still infect people having the immunity gained through the Omicron infections, but it may not cause severe illness.
They, however, warned that any type of Covid variant can be dangerous for only the immunocompromised people and those who have comorbidities.
Herd immunity is a concept based on the body's immune resistance to the spread of a deadly disease (bacterial or viral infection) and it can be obtained in two ways -- naturally through infections of the majority of the population and artificially through vaccinating around 80 percent of the population of a country.
Dr Bijon Kumar Sil, head of the microbiology department at Gono University, said the way Omicron has spread across Bangladesh, leaving behind a high-quality natural immunity among people in the country. “So, I think Covid may not cause serious problems in the country in the days to come.”
He believes Bangladesh has already attained herd immunity like many other countries in the world.
“It’s very good quality herd immunity. Natural herd immunity is much better than vaccine-induced immunity. The American CDC is also now recognising the natural immunity gained through Omicron infection is as good as double or triple vaccinations,” the expert said.
He said not only Bangladesh but also many countries in the world are going to attain natural herd immunity because of massive exposure to the Omicron variant. “As Omicron has spread rapidly all over the world, hardly anyone will remain without a natural antibody with the ebbing of its wave.”
Dr Bijon thinks over 80 percent of people in Bangladesh have already been infected by Omicron, while over 70 percent have already received the first dose of vaccines. “So, the new variant in the future is unlikely to cause any big problem in terms of severity of the illness.”
Dr Be-Nazir Ahmed, former director (disease control) of DGHS, said Omicron worked as a natural vaccine as most people of the country were infected by it. “So, we’ve already gained the herd immunity against the Covid virus.”
He said the new normal life will not be affected and people may not suffer much from the Covid if any new variant does not come that can dodge the existing immunity of people.
Going to be like flu
Dr Bijon is hopeful that Covid-19 will become like a flu in the near future, but it will not be eliminated from the world. “If a new variant emerges in the coming days, it may infect people with symptoms like many other remaining flues.”
He, however, said new variants are likely to be a matter of concern for the people who are immunocompromised.