India proposes co-production of Covaxin in Bangladesh

Diplomatic Correspondent

26 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

New Delhi has offered Dhaka co-production of Covaxin, a Covid-19 vaccine produced by Indian Bharat Biotech, in Bangladesh.

Indian High Commission in Dhaka in a diplomatic message sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Saturday conveyed the proposal to produce the jab, which has shown efficacy of over 80 per cent, in Bangladesh.

"If the co-production of Covaxin, as offered by India, had begun in Bangladesh using our immense scaling up capacity and presence of multiple manufacturers, "Made in Bangladesh" vaccines would be administered in our country and to friendly countries as well," reads the note verbale.

"Something every Bangladeshi would be proud of. But that opportunity is still not lost, provided we make the best use of it," added the note.

The development came after MoFA wrote to the Indian High Commission last week, seeking information about the supply of Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine as per a contract.

In the note verbale, the High Commission informed MoFA that the supply of Covishield (Oxford-AstraZeneca) vaccine is being delayed due to a crisis of raw materials and a huge internal demand in India.

Stressing the need for co-production of Covaxin, the diplomatic letter also mentioned that India had been trying to meet its internal demand as well as obligations made under contractual agreements by Indian companies to produce more of the vaccines being manufactured at the Serum Institute of India (SII), Pune and by other prominent vaccine manufacturers.

It said the entire world is aware that key countries of the world have been withholding raw materials, which are critical for the manufacture of these vaccines.

The note verbale understandably indicated the US ban on export of Covid-19 vaccine raw materials that impacted the production of the SII.

A high official at MoFA told the Daily Sun on Sunday that the Indian response to the government clearly indicates that Bangladesh will get its Covishield vaccine doses under commercial arrangement from SII once the crisis of raw materials is resolved.

The Indian High Commission said icddr,b and Bharat Biotech entered into an agreement in December last for the phase-III clinical trials of Covaxin, but the actual trials are still awaiting approval.

Covaxin has shown efficacy of over 80 per cent, compared to that of Oxford-AstraZeneca one.

As per the agreement signed with the SII and Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Bangladesh was supposed to get 50 lakh doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine every month.

Bangladesh has so far received 70 lakh doses in two shipments under the commercial deal.

The first consignment of 50 lakh doses arrived in Dhaka from India on January 25 this year. Later, the second batch of 20 lakh doses came on February 22. 

Bangladesh received no vaccine dose in March and April.

Bangladesh began mass inoculation on February 7 with the vaccine manufactured by the SII.