The government is working to bring the coronavirus vaccine to the country as soon as it comes out in the market to protect the country’s people from the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have already signed a deal with Beximco and Indian serum institute to bring the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. We will sign agreements with the companies that can bring the vaccine immediately after it becomes available,” Health Services Division Secretary Md Abdul Mannan told the Daily Sun.The health ministry sources said the government has disbursed around half of the fund sought by the ministry to buy three crore doses of Covid-19 vaccines being developed by the Oxford University/AstraZeneca.
The vaccine costs $5 (Tk 423.85) per dose with an extra $1.25 for publicity expense, which includes awareness programmes.
The finance division disbursed Tk 7.35 billion from the fund allocated in 2020-21 fiscal year budget to fight Covid-19. This amount includes transportation cost to get the vaccine from aboard. The Health Service Division under Health and Family Welfare Ministry asked for Tk 12.71 billion for responding to the corona pandemic.
Some Tk 6.35 billion will be spent on half the vaccine requirement while Tk 1 billion will be used for the distribution of the vaccine across the country.
On 10 November, Health Service Division Secretary Abdul Mannan sent a proposal to Finance Division seeking Tk 15.89 billion to procure three crore doses of Novavax and Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines, the ministry sources said.
“We have already sent financial proposal to bring the coronavirus vaccine,” Abdul Mannan said.Finance division allocated Tk 100 billion this fiscal year to fight the deadly coronavirus.
In November, the government signed a tripartite contract with Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd (BPL) and India’s Serum Institute for importing 30 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca.
According to the MoU, the Serum Institute, the largest manufacturer of vaccines in the world, will supply 30 million doses of the vaccine – 5 million per month – to Bangladesh at a price similar to what India will get at, once it is finally approved for human application.
The government will procure this Covid-19 vaccine via the local drug producer, Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd, the sole supplier of Seram’s vaccine to Bangladesh.
Earlier, the health services division of the health and family welfare ministry sent a proposal to the Prime Minister’s Office for approval to import Serum’s vaccine through Beximco.
Addressing the MoU signing function, Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque said each dose would cost five US dollars and each person would require two doses.
“Each person will get two doses of the vaccine. Fifteen million people will be given one dose vaccine in every 28 days. There are conditions in the agreement to import to Bangladesh subject to the approval of the World Health Organization (WHO),” he said.
Zahid Maleque hoped that the Oxford-invented vaccine, which the Serum Institute of India was producing, would arrive in Dhaka by January after WHO’s approval.
“Initially, 30 million doses of vaccine will be imported and will be kept at the warehouse of Beximco. A decision has been taken in principle that Serum Institute will provide the vaccine to Bangladesh at the same price to what India will get,” he said.
Replying to a question about giving priority for the vaccine, he said priority will be given to frontline combatants, health department officials, police, corona patients, media workers and the elderly. However, it will be extended to all the people of the country in phases.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is an adenovirus vector-based vaccine, currently undergoing large scale phase III trials in Brazil, US, UK and India, and is expected to receive approval by the end of 2020.
Serum Institute of India has already partnered with Oxford-AstraZeneca along with Gates Foundation and Gavi to produce more than a billion doses of the vaccine for global supply.
At the programme, Abdul Mannan said the government has been maintaining communications with six institutes those are inventing coronavirus vaccine to get the coronavirus vaccine rapidly.