Bangladesh receives 245,200 AstraZeneca COVID vaccine doses from Japan

Bangladesh has received 245,200 Oxford-AstraZeneca doses from Japan under the global COVID-19 vaccine-sharing initiative COVAX.

Ito Naoki, the Japanese ambassador to Bangladesh, handed over the vaccine doses to Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen at Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka on Saturday.

The first batch of the vaccine shots pledged by the Japanese government brings a piece of good news for those who got the first dose of the Oxford vaccine but missed the second one due to a shortage. 

“We are lucky to have the shots as nearly 1.6 million people are waiting in Bangladesh to get their second doses of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine,” Momen said at the airport after receiving the doses.

The foreign minister had previously said that Japan would send 2.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Bangladesh. China and European Union would send 1 million vaccine doses as well.

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 COVAX.

Momen said Bangladesh is expected to get the second batch of 500,000 AstraZeneca vaccine shots on Friday.