Identifying the most cost-effective way to large scale vaccination in rural Bangladesh

Lead researchers:

Prof. Asad Islam, Monash University

Dr. Shafiun Nahin Shimul, University of Dhaka

Dr. Hyuncheol Bryant Kim, Cornell University & Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Dr. Debayan Pakrashi, IIT Kanpur

Dr. Armand Sim, PostDoc Fellow, Monash University

Partners: Asian Development Bank

Timeline: November 2021 to December 2023

Status: Complete

Method: Quantitative

The overview of the project:

 The idea to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake is a very important issue and needs to be addressed at the earliest as vaccines are the only weapon that can end this terrible war against COIV-19. However, vaccine take-up rates are not enough to reach herd immunity in most countries owing to a long history of vaccine hesitancy. In fact, the WHO in 2019 identified vaccine hesitancy as one of the top ten threats to global health.1

While nations are not new to the concept of vaccines for children, vaccines for adults, particularly for COVID-19 is new to the society and is steeped in rumors and misconceptions since its launch, with citizens lacking trust in vaccines, its efficacy and side effects.2,3,4 With new vaccines targeted towards adults, comes new challenges and issues. This is a new and unchartered area that has not been researched before and we have very limited understanding of the barriers to adoption and how-to best address vaccine hesitancy in the rural regions.

While Ali & Hossain (2021) estimate from a nationally representative sample of 1,134 individuals that about one-third of Bangladeshi, mostly males, over the age of 60, unemployed and from low-income households were reluctant to have vaccines. On the other hand, Hossain et al. (2021)5 put the prevalence of vaccine hesitancy at 41% with women, Muslims and those living in the city corporation areas most hesitant. The results therefore are mixed and a large- scale study needs to be undertaken at the earliest to understand what are the determinants of vaccine hesitancy and how the issue of vaccine hesitancy can be addressed. Finding the most cost-effective channel to deal with vaccine hesitancy is the need of the hour as several organizations such as the ADB has sanctioned millions of dollars to promote large scale vaccination drives in Bangladesh.6 The lessons learnt from this research will be beneficial to other Asian countries as well, which have been part of ADB’s $9 billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX) launched in December 2020.