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Production of corona vaccine in country likely from June

Production of corona vaccine in country likely from June

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Bangladesh is likely to start the production of coronavirus vaccine in June next as a plant is going to be established in Gopalganj soon to ensure inoculation of all the people of the country against the deadly pathogen using homegrown jabs.

“I hope the factory for producing coronavirus vaccine will be set up in Gopalganj within a month. We’ll go for vaccine production after the establishment of the factory,” Prof Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, director general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told the Daily Sun.

Mentioning that the government will set up a steel-structured building as the vaccine manufacturing factory on 10 acres of land by a facility of Essential Drugs Company Limited (EDCL) in Gopalganj, he said around 90 percent work of land acquisition has already been completed.

He said a Development Project Proposal (DPP) has been submitted to the Planning Commission to resolve various issues, including the land acquisition, for the factory.

The DGHS chief said a mutual non-disclosure agreement (NDC) was signed between state-run drug manufacturing company EDCL and US-based pharmaceutical company Dyadic International in December last on manufacturing coronavirus vaccine with the technological support of the US firm company.

He said preparations are now going on to appoint a Bangladeshi-origin scientist who worked at the AstraZeneca vaccine factory in the UK as consultant for the vaccine manufacturing factory, without disclosing his name. “We’ll produce protein-based coronavirus vaccine in our factory as there’s no need for importing raw materials from abroad for such jab. We can collect the raw materials from our own sources.

The vaccine will also be temperature-friendly. As a result, we can produce the vaccine in huge quantity,” Khurshid Alam added.

He, however, said no decision has yet been taken about the name, patent or price of the coronavirus vaccine.

Earlier, a high-powered committee, National Vaccine Manufacturing Committee, led by Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque, was formed last year for feasibility study and making the project plan for setting up the vaccine factory.

Talking to the Daily Sun, Vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Prof Dr Md Sharfuddin Ahmed, also a member of the national committee, said, “Work has started to set up the vaccine manufacturing factory in Gopalganj. I hope we can go for the vaccine production by June this year.”

EDCL will open a Letter of Credit (LoC) in the next month to procure heavy equipment for setting up the vaccine factory.

Health ministry sources said the authorities concerned are trying to set up the factory within one month as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is expected to be signed between EDCL and Dyadic International in February on the establishment of the factory.

As per the draft MoU, Bangladesh and Dyadic International will jointly develop a coronavirus vaccine candidate based on the IC technology that is intended to be stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius temperature and potentially a second generation, room temperature (dry form), Covid-19 vaccine.

Bangladesh will fund and conduct clinical trials from phase I to phase III, it added.

The parties will use diligent efforts to enter into a definitive agreement and a IC technology sublicence agreement for Covid-19 vaccine development and production with the Bangladesh government for up to a billion doses per year.

As a highly flexible technique, ‘ion chromatography or IC technology’ has many practical applications in the pharmaceutical field.

Talking to the Daily Sun, EDCL Managing Director Dr Ehsanul Kabir has recently said, “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already given us necessary directives to set up the vaccine manufacturing factory. A plant will be set up in Gopalganj where another project of EDCL is underway.”

Health Minister in June last year disclosed that the government would set up a vaccine manufacturing plant in Gopalganj to produce coronavirus vaccine locally.