Bangladesh plans to import another 30m COVID vaccine doses

  • Staff Correspondent,
    Published: 2021-02-27 19:26:48 BdST

Bangladesh plans to import another 30 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, as the government aims to inoculate more people in its pandemic battle.

The government is also trying to find ways to produce vaccines in Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said at a media briefing in Dhaka on Saturday.

Hasina virtually met journalists to announce the United Nations’ final recommendation for Bangladesh to leave the least developed country bracket.

“I have already ordered the purchase of 30 million more doses. We are taking steps to ensure that not a single person falls out of the vaccination programme,” Hasina said.

Bangladesh is using the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India.

The government struck a deal with India to import 30 million doses at the end of 2020. In January and February, a total of seven million doses were shipped to the country in two batches. Separately, India sent two million doses as a gift.

Serum Institute is scheduled to supply the rest of the doses in monthly installments by June, while Bangladesh is likely to receive 1.25 million doses from World Health Organisation’s COVAX platform in the first half of 2021.

Revealing a plan to produce vaccines in Bangladesh with the approval of companies that make vaccines, Hasina said: “I’ve asked different pharmaceutical companies, capable to do it, to stay prepared.”

Bangladesh launched a nationwide mass vaccination drive on Feb 7 after Hasina inaugurated the programme in a small testing phase at the end of January. As of Feb 25, as many as 2.8 million Bangladeshi citizens were inoculated.

Hasina reminded everyone that the vaccine was still at its testing stage when Bangladesh finalised the contract with Serum Institute in November.

“We paid in advance to buy the vaccine when available. We will provide safety to the people of the country, that is our ethical stance.”

Hasina said she prioritised the inoculation of all teachers, students and education officials, who will stay in university halls and hostels.

“We will do this because we want to reopen the educational institutions very soon and reestablish the environment to study.”

On when she herself would take her vaccine dose, Hasina said, “I will definitely take my shot, but before that, I want to see how many people we are able to vaccinate. Saving people’s lives with the vaccine is what matters most.”