Bangladesh hopes GAVI begins supplying COVID-19 vaccine by February

Bangladesh officials say the global alliance GAVI promised to begin supplying COVID-19 vaccine doses by February 2021.

The Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunisation has moved to distribute the vaccine to 92 low- and middle-income countries.

It has promised to deliver 68 million doses to Bangladesh that can cover 20 percent of the country’s population, according to Md Shamsul Haue, line director for maternal, child and adolescent health programme at the Directorate General of Health Services.   

The counties that will submit national distribution plan first will get the doses first as well, Shamsul said at a DGHS programme on Wednesday.

He hopes Bangladesh will be able to submit the plan to GAVI on the first day of filing.

ABM Khurshid Alam, the director general of health services, also sounded sanguine about getting the vaccine from GAVI by February.

“There are possibilities that we will get the vaccine in January-February. We will get 30 million doses under the deal with India. And GAVI will supply vaccine for 20 percent of our population,” he said.

“They said we will get the vaccine by this January-February, but I can’t say the exact date,” he told bdnews24.com.      

DGHS officials said Bangladesh will need around $1.62 per dose to get the vaccine from GAVI. The alliance will supply the vaccine at a subsidised rate.

Currently, the government pays 10 percent of the price of vaccines for different diseases while GAVI bears the rest of the costs. 

The COVID-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute of India will cost $5 per dose, according to Salman F Rahman, the prime minister’s adviser for private industry and investment and vice-chairman of Beximco Group.

Beximco Pharmaceuticals has signed a deal with Serum to supply the vaccine as the exclusive distributor in Bangladesh.

Salman has also said that Bangladesh will be the first to get the vaccine, developed by Britain’s AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, once Serum begins distribution internationally.

The World Health Organization has been working for months on a plan called COVAX for fair distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines, seen as the only hope to end the pandemic.

The COVAX plan, co-led by GAVI, the WHO and the CEPI Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, aims to deliver two billion doses of effective, approved COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021. 

The countries with more than $4,000 per capita income will have to buy a vaccine while those with less than $4,000 per capita income will get specific amounts of doses for free initially.

As per the 20 percent quota, Bangladesh will need 68 million doses at the outset – with two shots per head – as most frontrunner vaccine candidates require two shots for maximum efficacy. Doctors and other frontline responders will be vaccinated first.