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Hasina says Bangladesh will buy ‘as many vaccines as needed’

  • Staff Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2021-07-03 18:14:02 BdST

bdnews24

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina says Bangladesh will buy “as many vaccines as needed” in order to protect people from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bangladesh has attempted to obtain vaccines since the start of research on the disease, Hasina said during a parliamentary session on Saturday.

Bangladesh faced a roadblock in its vaccination campaign after a deal to procure doses from India fell through due to a massive spike in cases in the neighbouring country. The inoculation initiative was suspended for over two months due to a shortage of doses.

“But now vaccines have arrived in Bangladesh,” Hasina said. “Migrant workers going abroad will be prioritised for the Pfizer shot.”

Bangladesh has received 2.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine from the US under the COVAX initiative and two million doses of China’s Sinopharm in different shipments since Friday night.

China and India also sent additional vaccines as gifts, she said.

Bangladesh is in contact with other vaccine-producing countries and companies, the prime minister said.

“We will buy more vaccines – as many as needed. We have set aside money in the budget for it. There is no need to worry.”

“We are in contact with China, Russia, the US, Japan and other countries. We will buy them wherever we can. We brought the Sinopharm shots from China with our own planes.”

The prime minister said that the goal was to vaccinate 80 percent of Bangladesh’s population and noted that the shots would remain free.

“We have allocated a huge amount – Tk 322 billion – for vaccines and have another Tk 100 billion in reserve that we can use if necessary.”

Bangladesh began its mass vaccination campaign on Feb 7 with doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India, but stopped administering the first dose on Apr 25 due to a supply squeeze.

The Serum Institute has, thus far, sent 10.2 million doses to Bangladesh. Bangladesh has also approved a deal with China to buy 15 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine. Of them, two million doses arrived in Dhaka on Friday night and Saturday morning.

Around the same time came 2.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine under the purview of COVAX.

So far Bangladesh has administered two doses of the vaccine to about 4.3 million people. With the 4.5 million doses still in stock, another 2.25 million people can be completely vaccinated.

HASINA FRUSTRATED BY LOCKDOWN BREACHES

Hasina expressed her frustration over people breaching lockdown restrictions despite the government’s attempt to combat the spread of COVID-19.

She urged everyone to follow hygiene rules entirely to bring the pandemic under control.

The public’s adherence to health regulations was good at the start of the pandemic in March last year, but has begun to fade since.

The situation this year is quite different even though deaths and infections from the coronavirus are reaching, or in some cases, exceeding previous records. More than 100 people have died a day over the past several days and the number of daily cases is above 8,000.

“The problem is that people won’t heed warnings,” Hasina said. “We asked them not to leave their workplaces during the Eid-ul-Fitr holidays, but they were desperate to go home and caused a massive outbreak of the coronavirus in various districts.”

Meanwhile, public health experts advised avoiding gatherings, handwashing with soap and face-coverings to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Hasina urged people to comply with the safety regulations designed by the experts to keep everyone safe.

‘CAN’T RISK CHILDREN’S LIVES’

Hasina criticised GM Quader, chairman of the Jatiya Party and deputy leader of the opposition in parliament, for demanding reopening of educational institutions.

No parents want to send their children to schools, colleges or universities now amid the rising number of infections, Hasina said in her closing remarks in the budget discussion.

“Those who don’t have school-going children are speaking much about the issue. But parents don’t want it (reopening).”

The government is airing lessons via TV and radio, while the students are also

continuing their study online in the absence of in-person classes.

“We will reopen all schools after vaccination. We had decided to reopen them, but had to back off because the coronavirus spread to a worrying level.

“Would the honourable deputy leader of the opposition think over whether to put the lives of the children at risk even after knowing that they can also get infected?” she said.