Bangladesh: Delta fuels deadly COVID-19 surge amid crippling vaccine shortfalls

Kuala Lumpur/Dhaka/Geneva, 06 July 2021: Urgent action is needed to increase COVID-19 vaccine supplies for Bangladesh as hospitals reach capacity and oxygen supplies run short across the country. 


The deadly Delta COVID-19 variant is spreading fast in urban and rural areas across Bangladesh stretching the entire health sector beyond its limits. Hospitals in areas of Bangladesh bordering India are experiencing a sharp rise in infections and deaths. 



In the capital Dhaka, around 78 per cent of infections have been identified as caused by the Delta strain according to the Government of Bangladesh. Nearly one in three people (29%) tested is positive with COVID-19 pointing to much higher infection rates across the country. 



After a promising start earlier this year, Bangladesh was forced to halt all vaccinations due to a shortage in supply. Around 3 per cent of the Bangladesh population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 compared with half the population of countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States, according to Oxford University's Our World in Data. 



Feroz Salah Uddin, Secretary General of Bangladesh Red Crescent Society said: 



“The recent spike of COVID-19 infections in Bangladesh is deeply alarming and it is being fuelled by the more infectious and deadly Delta strain, with hundreds of people dying a week. 



“Bangladesh Red Crescent has ramped up ambulance services and efforts to help reduce death and suffering due to this dangerous virus. Our volunteers are working alongside health authorities to accelerate vaccinations, but a crippling shortage in supply is hurting progress.” 



Bangladesh Red Crescent teams are helping people with free ambulance services 24 hours a day, in 10 high-risk districts and providing oxygen cylinders across the country. Cooked food and other relief are also being provided to people who have lost their jobs or income. 



More than 13,500 Bangladesh Red Crescent volunteers are working across the country to help with vaccinations, medical care, providing masks and running public information campaigns on the importance of staying safe from COVID-19.  



Sanjeev Kafely, Head of IFRC Bangladesh Delegation said: 



“It’s critical that richer countries share more vaccines with Bangladesh in the coming days and weeks to help avoid the horrors caused by COVID-19 in India. 



“COVID-19 is having devastating impacts on millions of people in Bangladesh, with many losing their incomes and livelihoods. Mass vaccination is the key to ending the spiralling deaths, infections and hardships caused by this virus in Bangladesh and everywhere around the world.” 



The IFRC is seeking vital funding for its global emergency COVID-19 appeal, with around 55% of the appeal covered so far. The funds are crucial to support the lifesaving actions of the IFRC and member Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the world.

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