The nationwide roll-out of the 2nd dose of Covid-19 vaccine begins today while the administering of the 1st dose of the jab will continue simultaneously.
“We’ll start giving the 2nd dose of Covid-19 vaccine tomorrow (Thursday). People will be informed about their dates of receiving vaccine through SMS,” Prof Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, director general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told the Daily Sun on Wednesday.He claimed that the government has adequate vaccine shots in stock to run the rollout of the 2nd dose. “We can run the vaccination for around 42-43 days with the vaccine doses we have currently in our stock. We hope we’ll get more vaccine doses by this time,” he said.
According to the DGHS, those are getting SMS eight weeks after receiving their first doses can go to specific centres with vaccination cards for receiving their second shots.
If anyone does not receive the SMS even eight weeks after the 1st dose, he/she can still take the 2nd dose from the specific centre, it added.
Those who were administered the 1st doses on January 27 and 28 and February 7 and 8 will be able to receive their 2nd shots today even if they have not received any SMS.
Sources at the DGHS said the administering of both the 1st and 2nd doses of the vaccine will continue simultaneously while the online registration for vaccination will also remain on.
The nationwide vaccination programme continued even during the restrictions imposed on the movement of people, public transport and other activities for a week to contain the coronavirus transmission and it will also continue during the upcoming month of Ramadan.Bangladesh has so far received 1.02 crore doses of Covishield vaccine, developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca and manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII) -- 70 lakh purchased from the SII and 32 lakh received as a gift from the Indian government.
The nationwide vaccination drive started on February 7 after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the programme at the end of January.
The DGHS data said 4,631,297 vaccine doses are currently in stock while 5,568,703 doses have been administered to people as of Wednesday.
Asked whether they have received any response from the SII to get more vaccine doses, Khurshid Alam said, “We’ve sent a letter to them (SII) but yet to receive any reply officially. However, their local vendor Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd has informed us that we may get more vaccine doses in the next week.”
He also said the government is trying to bring more vaccines from other sources -- Sinovac from China, Sputnik V from Russia and Johnson & Johnson from the US -- to inoculate all against the deadly virus.
“We’ve talked to the Chinese envoy today (Wednesday) about their Sinovac vaccine and expressed our interest to take the jab. They’ll give us around 5 lakh Sinovac vaccine doses initially,” the DGHS chief said.
Mentioning that the Chinese vaccine has not yet received approval from the World Health Organization (WHO), he said the vaccine will be imported after the approval.
Khurshid Alam said the government is also trying to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines locally. “Incepta Pharmaceuticals Ltd and Popular Pharmaceuticals Ltd have the capacity to manufacture vaccines here. Efforts are being made to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines in the country after bringing the jab seed,” he added.
About vaccines Bangladesh is supposed to get under the COVAX facility, he said it is being delayed due to a delay in providing the jab by the SII for the COVAX facility.
Speaking in Parliament on April 4, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said the government will bring 6.80 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccine through the Gavi-COVAX facility.
Earlier, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said many countries expressed their interests to provide Covid-19 vaccines for Bangladesh and the country would receive all those for ensuring vaccination up to the rural level.
Bangladesh has signed a tripartite agreement with the SII to purchase 3 crore doses of vaccine in phases through its local vendor Beximco. As per the deal, the SII was scheduled to send 50 lakh vaccine doses every month.
However, Bangladesh received the first consignment of 50 lakh doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on January 25 last. Later, it got 20 lakh doses in the second consignment on February 23.