Bangladesh to get 245,200 AstraZeneca COVID vaccine doses from Japan Saturday

Bangladesh is set to receive 245,200 Oxford-AstraZeneca doses from Japan on Saturday amid the crisis over the shortage of COVID vaccines in the country.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen will receive the first batch of the shots pledged by the Japanese government at Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka.

A Cathay Pacific Airways plane will carry the vaccines, foreign ministry officials said on Friday.

Bangladesh started its mass vaccination campaign in February, using the COVISHIELD vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and Anglo-Swedish company AstraZeneca. But the programme was subsequently halted after India banned vaccine exports to tackle a growing COVID crisis within its own borders.

The inoculation drive resumed on Jul 1 after the government received consignments of Sinopharm, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Moderna vaccines from China and under the global sharing platform COVAX.

However, the government is trying to secure Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doses from different sources to fully vaccinate over 1.5 million citizens, who got the first dose of the Oxford vaccine but missed the second one due to the shortage.

The foreign minister had previously said that Japan would send 2.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Bangladesh.