Staff Correspondent: Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen yesterday said Bangladesh is hopeful of receiving more vaccine doses this month from Japan, the European Union (EU) and the USA under COVAX facility apart from a steady flow of that from China.
“We’re in a good position now. I should say we’ve made a line up. I think there’ll be no vaccine crisis, and the vaccination programme will continue uninterruptedly,” he told a small group of reporters at his residence.
Dr Momen said Bangladesh is expected to get around 2.5 million doses of vaccine from Japan while 1 million from the EU under the COVAX facility. “These’re likely to be AstraZeneca vaccine doses.”
The Foreign Minister said he talked to the Japanese Foreign Minister recently and Bangladesh mentioned about Japan’s vaccine supply to others.
Dr Momen said Japan will provide vaccine doses to Bangladesh, too but the exact quantity was not mentioned. But a big quantity of vaccine doses is expected to arrive this week or next week under the COVAX facility. “We expect it’ll be around 2.5 million doses.”
Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, abbreviated as COVAX, is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The Foreign Minister said Bangladesh recently got 2.5 million doses of Moderna vaccine doses from the USA under the COVAX facility. “US informed us that there’ll be more.”
He said the government has planned to bring vaccine doses from Sinopharm over the next three months as per the plan, and the first consignment of 2 million doses of Sinopharm vaccine has already arrived.
There is a discussion on extension of agreement beyond three months and Chinese side wanted to know how much Bangladesh wants. “We’ll extend the agreement. They’ve given a date to let them know about the quantity.”
Responding to a question, the Foreign Minister said the government will keep in mind the issue of expiry of vaccine doses as many vaccine doses are coming together. “We’ll not bring any date-expired vaccine.”
On vaccine supply from India, the Foreign Minister said India did not say that they will not give Bangladesh vaccine. “I hope we’ll get it from India once the situation improves and production is increased.”
Bangladesh entered into a deal with the Serum Institute of India (SII) to purchase 30 million doses of a potential vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca for Covid-19.
Bangladesh was supposed to get five million doses of vaccine per month as the SII and Bangladesh’s Beximco Pharma signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for priority delivery of the vaccine doses.
Bangladesh has so far received only 7 million of Oxford-AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine doses produced by Serum Institute of India (SII) through its contract. Bangladesh also received 3.3 million doses of vaccine as a bilateral partnership gift.
Responding to a question on vaccine coproduction, Dr Momen said they are in discussion with China and Russia. “We approached them for co-production and there is progress.”
The Foreign Minister said many private companies and individuals have lined up for bringing vaccines to Bangladesh but the government does not want to take that risk. “We’ll bring vaccine doses and distribute those free of cost.”
Dr Momen said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina allocated adequate funds for purchasing vaccine doses as the government wants to bring 80 percent people of the country under vaccination.
Earlier, on July 3, Dr Momen said they had received positive indications from a number of countries regarding supply of more vaccine doses to Bangladesh.
“There’s nothing to be worried about. There’ll be plenty of vaccines. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has kept aside adequate funds for purchasing vaccines,” he said.
Bangladesh has received 2.5 million doses of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine under the COVAX facility and 2 million doses of Sinopharm vaccine (commercially purchased from China) on Friday night and Saturday morning.
Health Minister Zahid?Maleque said the government is in negotiations with a number of countries to get AstraZeneca vaccine doses and the Foreign Minister is helping them in many ways. “We’ve got a positive indication from those countries that they’ll give us AstraZeneca.”
The Health Minister also said they got indications from India too that they will start supplying AstraZeneca from August. “Hope, we’ll get it timely and people will be able to get their second dose.”
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