The mass vaccination of Covid-19 is expected to resume in July next as the government is making all-out efforts to collect vaccines, said Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus on Thursday.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to restart the vaccination on a mass scale in July,” he said, replying to a question at a press conference arranged at the Prime Minister’s Office over the Ashrayan-2 project.
The Principal Secretary said the government has already talked to several countries over the Covid-19 jabs. Bangladesh is also trying to produce vaccines locally. “We expect we’ll get the vaccines soon,” he added.
Noting that a fund of Tk 14,000 crore has been allocated for the procurement of vaccines, he said the Prime Minister always says Bangladesh does not need to get free vaccines as it will buy those wherever theses are available. “We’ve made good progress,” he added.
Dr Kaikaus said the government has been working rigorously for procuring vaccines from the very beginning. Bangladeshi diplomats keep communicating with the USA, the UK, Europe, China and other countries (for collecting Covid-19 vaccines), he said.
PMO Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah and Ashrayan-2 Project Director Md Mahbub Hossain were, among others, present.
The government halted administering the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine on Apr 26 apparently considering the dwindling stock of its jabs.
In a circular on April 25, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) asked the civil surgeons of all the districts, the chief health officers of all the city corporations, and the upaizla health and family planning officers of all the upazilas to take necessary steps in this regard.
The first dose of the covid vaccination was apparently suspended amid uncertainty over the availability of vaccine doses from Serum Institute of India as per contract following rapid surge in the virus cases and deaths in neighbouring India.
Bangladesh signed an agreement with the Serum Institute of India Pvt Ltd for 30 million doses of the vaccine.
Bangladesh received 7 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced by Serum Institute of India through its contract. Bangladesh also received 3.3 million doses of vaccine as a bilateral partnership gift.
Although Foreign Minister AK Momen had earlier assured people that there will be adequate doses of the vaccine, a record number of cases in India has made the delivery of the vaccine doses uncertain.
Biotech vaccine to get go-ahead
The National Research Ethics Committee of Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) on Wednesday decided to approve Globe Biotech's Covid-19 vaccine, Bangavax, for human trials.
Globe Biotech will get the final nod on conducting clinical trials on humans only after meeting some conditions set by the BMRC, its director Prof Dr Ruhul Amin said this after a virtual meeting.
Bangladesh to set up international vaccine institute
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said the government is going to set up an international vaccine institute to produce vaccines, including the Covid-19 ones, in Bangladesh.
She said the government will sign an agreement with South Korea to set up the vaccine institute and the issues relating to ratification, accession and approval of the agreement by the Cabinet are under process.
The Prime Minister said the government has taken an initiative to produce Covid-19 vaccines in the country alongside collection from foreign sources to check the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
Hasina said government-to-government (G2G) negotiations are underway with the countries that have developed vaccines for transferring technology to this end.
Five vaccines get nod
Replying to another question from Jatiya Party MP Fakhrul Imam, the Prime Minister said the government has so far approved the emergency use of five vaccines for their import.
The vaccines are Oxford-AstraZeneca, Sinopharm (China), Sputnik-V (Russia), Pfizer-BioNTech (USA/Germany) and Crona Vac (China).
She said Bangladesh has so far collected a total of 1,08,0620 (1.08 crore) shots of Covid vaccines from different foreign sources. Of these, 1.02 crore shots, including the gifted ones, came from India, while 5 lakh from Sinopharm and 1,0620 doses from Pfizer.
The government has extended the ongoing countrywide lockdown till 15 July as the Covid-19 situation continues to worsen in the country.
However, all government, semi-government, autonomous private offices, banks and financial institutions will remain open maintaining health protocols.