The government will start coronavirus vaccination programme with a test run by January 28 as two million doses of Covid-19 vaccine will arrive in the country from India today.
Bangladesh is purchasing 30 million doses of Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine ‘Covishield’ produced by Serum Institute of India (SII) through Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd.Besides, India will give two million ‘Covishield’ vaccines as a gift for Bangladesh.
As per a tripartite agreement, Serum Institute of India will send 30 million vaccines to Bangladesh in six phases. The first consignment is expected to arrive by January 26.
Md. Abdul Mannan, secretary of the health services division, told a press briefing at the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday that two million doses of vaccine given by India as gift will reach Dhaka at 1:30pm today by an Air India flight.
The first consignment of 30 million doses of the vaccine purchased by the Bangladesh government will arrive in the country on January 25, he added.
The 2 million doses of vaccines given as gift will be kept preserved at Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) cold storage in Tejgaon of the capital. Covishield vaccine needs storage facility with temperature between 2 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius.
However, as per the agreement, Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd will keep the purchased vaccines in its own storage. The vaccine will be sent to districts as per the government’s list.The health secretary said the government has a plan to vaccinate 6 million people in the first month of the countrywide vaccination programme as they are getting a total of 7 million doses of vaccines initially.
“Two lakh doses of vaccine will be given every day across the country in the first month,” he said adding that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the vaccination programme.
Abdul Mannan said that the government will start corona vaccination programme with a test run in some hospitals in the capital on January 27 or 28.
He said vaccination will be launched at Kurmitola General Hospital. Around 25 front liners, including doctors and nurses, will be administered the vaccines on the first day as test case.
Around 500 people, including healthcare providers and volunteers will be given the vaccine the next day as test run in Kurmitola Hospital, Mugda General Hospital, Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital and DMCH.
"The trial vaccination will begin by January 27/28 at Kurmitola Hospital. After observing the vaccinated people for one week, nationwide vaccination drive is likely to begin in the first week of February," the health secretary said.
Health ministry sources said the countrywide corona vaccination programme may begin on February 8 when two lakh people will be given vaccines every day.
Though the authorities concerned have approved emergency use of Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine in the country, the government wants to carry out the test run of the vaccination to observe the situation for a week as no clinical trial of the vaccine has been conducted in the country.
“After carrying out the test run of the vaccination, we will wait for a week as per protocol of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and then vaccination programme will begin across the country,” Abdul Mannan said.
He said the government has a plan to vaccinate 8-9 core people of the country in phases.
Chaired by Zuena Aziz, Principal Coordinator (SDG Affairs) of Prime Minister's Office, the press briefing was also addressed by N M Ziaul Alam, senior secretary of ICT Division, Prof Dr ABM Khurshid Alam and director general of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
The health ministry said the vaccine recipients will be registered online as the government has already made a priority list to give the vaccine. The government is purchasing 30 million doses of vaccine from Serum Institute for 1.5 corroe people as two doses of the vaccine will be given to everyone with eight weeks gap.
Talking to reporters on Wednesday, Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque said the vaccination drive will begin with inoculation of frontline fighters. “Doctors, nurses, police personnel and journalists will get the vaccine first as per the pre-determined vaccination plan. We have no priority for the VIPs,” he said.
In addition, the health secretary said Bangladesh will get 6.8 crore vaccines from Covax facility for 20 per cent of its population. The country will get eight lakh Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines under Covax facility.