‘No oxygen crisis in country’

Staff Correspondent

28 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Mentioning that Bangladesh’s oxygen arrangement does not depend on any particular country, Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque on Tuesday said there is no oxygen crisis in the country at this moment.

“There’s nothing to be worried about oxygen as we don’t import oxygen from India or any other country throughout the year. Though India has stopped supplying oxygen, there’s nothing to be afraid. We have no crisis of oxygen,” he said.

The minister came up with the remarks while addressing a press conference on the premises of Bangladesh College of Physicians and Surgeons (BCPS) at Mohakhali in the capital.

“Our capacity to produce gas oxygen is much higher than that of liquid oxygen.

It’s now possible to produce 250 tonnes of oxygen per day from gas oxygen while 150-200 tonnes of liquid oxygen are produced here. The private medical sector of the country also has the capacity to produce 40-50 tonnes of oxygen. Those can also be taken if necessary,” he said.

Zahid Maleque said the uncertainty about getting coronavirus vaccine doses from the Serum Institute of India (SII) is likely to be over soon. “Our government is trying to bring the vaccine doses and the PMO and the Foreign Ministry have been working on it. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has repeatedly requested the Indian Prime Minister to ensure the vaccine supply. So, we hope we may get the vaccine soon. However, we don’t know the exact time. We’ll be able to know about it within a few days,” he said.

He said the government had placed an order for 3 crore doses of vaccine from the SII and paid money in advance. “But it’s a matter of regret that Bangladesh is not getting the vaccine in time which is disrupting the national vaccination programme.”

Mentioning that the government is also trying to procure vaccines from China, Russia and the USA, the minister said there has been progress in this regard. “China has already made a commitment to provide Bangladesh with 5 lakh vaccine doses and the government is now waiting to receive those.”

He said the government has signed a non-disclosure agreement with Russia and sent a letter to China over the vaccine.

Zahid Maleque said Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd and Incepta Pharmaceuticals Ltd have shown interest to manufacture Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine of Russia in Bangladesh and the government has taken necessary steps in this regard.

He said Russian will take a decision on it after examining the technical and financial capability of the companies. “It now depends on Russia.”