Bangladesh to roll out Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses on Monday

  • Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2021-06-20 18:02:33 BdST

The government will on Monday administer the first doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which were sent under the global sharing platform COVAX, on 360 people in a dry run at three hospitals in Dhaka.

The mass vaccination with the Pfizer doses will begin after observing the participants of the dry run for seven to 10, the Directorate General of Health Services said on Sunday.

The jabs will be given at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Sheikh Russel National Gastroliver Institute and Hospital, and Kurmitola General Hospital.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the third to be administered in Bangladesh amid the pandemic.

Bangladesh recently began administering 500,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, sent by China as a gift, to students and doctors of medical colleges. The vaccine was also made available to the frontline workers in the fight against the coronavirus.

The government resumed another phase of inoculations with the Chinese vaccine across the country on Saturday.

The country rolled out the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine by administering the first dose to Runu Veronica Costa, a nurse, at the Kurmitola General Hospital on Jan 27. The mass vaccination drive was launched on Feb 7 after observation of the participants of the trial.     

With the stock of the vaccine exhausted, the country is using the vaccine developed by Chinese state company Sinopharm in the inoculation drive. The experimental drive began on May 25 with Ananya Salam, a final l-year student of Dhaka Medical College, receiving the first shot.      

The second phase of the mass inoculation programme with the Sinopharm doses began at 67 centres across the country on Saturday. China sent 1.1 million shots as gift on May 12 and Jun 13.  

The government received 100,620 Pfizer doses under the global COVID vaccine-sharing platform co-led by the World Health Organization on May 31.

The Pfizer vaccine must be stored between -90 degrees Celsius and -60 degrees Celsius. It can also be stored at 2 degrees Celsius to 5 degrees Celsius for five days. At 30 degrees Celsius, the vaccine will be valid for two hours.

Due to the complexities over storage, the vaccine will be given in Dhaka only.

The DGHS has prepared guidelines on the vaccine’s administration and trained health workers, said Dr Shamsul Haque, a line director at the directorate.

He hopes they will be able to give the vaccine at more centres once the mass inoculation begins after the dry run.

The vaccination trial will continue from 9am to 3pm on 120 people at each of the hospitals.

The citizens who registered on the Surokkha platform for the coronavirus vaccines at the three hospitals will get the Pfizer doses.

Those who could not come after registration can also get the Pfizer doses on Monday.

Bangladesh had to suspend the vaccination campaign due to a supply crunch by the end of April as India halted export of the AstraZeneca doses to tackle its own crisis.

Now it is uncertain when 1.5 million people, who had received the first dose of the vaccine, will get their second doses.