Saturday, 16 October, 2021

We’ll get 21cr doses of vaccine early next year: Minister

Health Minister Zahid Maleque on Saturday said the government will receive around 21 crore doses of Covid vaccines early next year to bring the country’s 80 percent population under the vaccination coverage, reports UNB.

“Now Bangladesh's most important task is to collect vaccines. The government has now over one crore doses of vaccines in its stock, while it’ll get two more crore doses by next month,” he said.

Speaking at a virtual discussion arranged by Bangladesh Private Medical College Association (BPMCA), the minister said, “The government will receive about 21 crore doses of vaccines, including three crore doses from China, seven crore each from Russia and Johnson & Johnson, and three crore from AstraZeneca early next year. We hope the government will be able to vaccinate at least 80 percent of the country’s population with these vaccine jabs.”

He said all the citizens above 18 years of age will be vaccinated from now on to keep the country's educational institutions functional and bring most citizens under the mass vaccination drive.

The minister said they have already asked the ICT Division to take steps so that people above 18 years of age can register for vaccination through the government-approved "Surokkha" app.

Over four percent of the country's population has so far been vaccinated since the government launched the mass vaccination programme on February 7 last by administering Covishield.

On April 25, the government had to suspend the first dose of the vaccine campaign due to the shortage of jabs. However, the vaccination drive resumed this month with the arrival of Sinopharm, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

The minister urged people to wear masks and maintain social distancing rules to keep them safe from the virus infections.

Recalling the role of private hospitals in tackling the Covid pandemic, Maleque requested the BPMCA to increase the number of beds to face the third wave of the deadly virus transmission.

In response, BPMCA president Mobin Khan assured the Health Minister of adding at least 2,000 new Covid-dedicated beds to the private medical hospitals.

As the virus showing an uptrend, the minister said they have taken an initiative to import about 200 tonnes of liquid oxygen per week from India.

Besides, he said, they are in the process of procuring 43 oxygen generators.

Maleque said they are going to receive 250 ventilators as a gift from Bangladeshis living in the USA.

He said 245,000 doses of vaccines under Covax facilities are scheduled to reach Bangladesh today (Saturday) while more 30 lakh doses of Chinese vaccines will arrive in the country on July 26 or 27.

The health minister said the process of recruitment of 4,000 doctors, 4,000 nurses, 500 anesthesia and many technologists is progressing very fast.

Maleque bemoaned that though the entire world has been parsing the role of Bangladesh’s health sector in tackling the Covid situation, some people in the country are strongly criticizing it, demoralising the doctors and nurses. “This is unfortunate and unexpected.”