Mustafa Kamal wishes he were the first to take coronavirus vaccine

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal appears excited about the arrival of the coronavirus vaccine from India as he says he would have been the first person to take the jab if offered.

“Yes I will. I would receive the first shot if possible. I need the vaccine as I have grown old,” Kamal said on Thursday when a reporter asked if he would take the vaccine. 

The 73-year old had caught dengue fever about two years ago. He has visited Singapore recently for a health check-up.

The government is planning to begin the vaccination drive by Jan 29 after Bangladesh received 2 million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine arrived as gift from India.

On the first day, 20 to 25 people, one representative each from the doctors, nurses, valiant freedom fighters, teachers, police, the army, administration and journalists, will be given the shots before a dry run on hundreds. After a week of observation, the drive will begin in full swing.

The government will prioritise people aged over 77 in the first phase of the campaign. Health Minister Zahid Maleque said politicians and VIPs are not on the target population prioritised in the vaccine drive plan.

“It is a good thing that the vaccine has arrived. Many of us, the elderly, need the vaccine. We will feel good and it will be easy for us to work once we get the jabs. Our efforts to take the country’s economy forward will become smooth,” said Kamal.

He also said he was ready to take the doses imported by the government. The minister spoke to journalists after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase.

Besides the gift doses, Bangladesh is importing 30 million doses from India.

Additional Cabinet Secretary Abu Saleh Mostofa Kamal said the committee approved the purchase of the 30 million doses of the Oxford vaccine from the Serum Institute of India at a total cost of Tk 12.71 billion.

Beximco Pharmaceuticals, the exclusive distributor of the vaccine from Serum in Bangladesh, is also importing some doses for private sale, but Minister Kamal said he did not know about it.