Diplomatic Correspondent: The government expects large sums of money from development partners to buy vaccines in the current financial year.
According to the Economic Relations Department (ERD), Covid-19 vaccine production and purchase is targeted at $1.7 billion from three development partners.
Among those, a loan has been agreed upon, with more loan agreements in the offing. In addition to those, the disbursement of funds promised by development partners to buy vaccines in the last financial year has already begun.
Last month, the government signed a $283 million loan agreement with the European Investment Bank. The money will be released this month, said Uttam Kumar Karmaker, additional secretary, ERD.
Furthermore, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will sign a $500 million loan agreement next March, with the funds set to be released after the agreement is signed.
On the other hand, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is expected to sign a $940 million loan agreement for the current financial year.
The ADB has already released $990 million in two disbursements to buy vaccines in the current fiscal year, following an agreement with last fiscal year.
Meanwhile, the World bank has pledged $500 million in loans for vaccine purchase, with the money to be released this fiscal year, according to the Department of Health.
The loan agreement was signed with the World Bank in the last financial year under the COVID-19 at the Emergency Pandemic Preparedness and Response Project. The project was stuck for many days due to some complications, but those have been dealt with and the funds will now be released, said project director Dr Shah GolamNabi.
The ERD officials said that development partners have started releasing vaccines from the current financial year.
Professor DrMeerjady Sabrina Flora, chair of the Covid-19 Vaccine Management Taskforce Committee of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) told The Business Standard that to vaccinate 80% of the population funding is required from various development partners through the ERD.
All government agencies are working together to provide the vaccinations.
Including gifts and purchases, Bangladesh has so far brought in a total of 27.67 crore vaccine shots.
A total of 9.98 crore people have received their first doses, while 6.66 crore received both their doses.
The number of booster dose takers stands at 22 lakh, with 10 crore jabs in stock.
Health Minister ZahidMaleque yesterdaytold journalists that so far over Tk20,000crore has been spent in the government’s vaccination drive.
“We now have tens of millions of doses of vaccines. Money has never been a barrier to buying vaccines. We are also working on vaccine production,” he said.
Dr Pear Mohammad, additional secretary and wing chief (ADB) of the ERD, said the $500 million loan from the ADB would be spent on vaccinations in Gopalganj.
The remaining $440 million will be spent on booster doses.
Meanwhile, the government is planning to produce a coronavirus vaccine in the country through transfer of technology, using the formula invented by the US-based company Dyadic International.
Necessary steps are being taken to produce this vaccine at Essential Drugs Company Limited (EDCL), a state-owned drug manufacturing company in Gopalganj.
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