5 lakh doses of vaccine to arrive from China by May 10: Minister

Staff Correspondent

4 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Health and family welfare minister Zahid Maleque on Monday said a shipment of five lakh doses of Chinese Sinopharm’s coronavirus vaccine will arrive in Bangladesh by May 10.

"The [Sinopharm’s] vaccine will be transported to the country on our own ship," he said while talking to reporters at the Secretariat in the capital after Cabinet meeting.

"It will take time to get the [Sinopharm] vaccine, which we will buy from China as discussion is underway about the prices, quantity and time," he said.

“We have sent a proposal to buy vaccines from China. Discussions on buying the vaccine will begin if China agrees. We need a lot of vaccines. We will take 4-5 crore doses of the Chinese vaccine,” Zahid Maleque said.

He said the government also discussed with Russia about the vaccine. “They want to give the vaccine and also want to produce here. We are in talks with the two countries (China and Russia). "

Mentioning that there is a shortage of 13 lakh doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for second dose, Zahid Maleque said the government is trying to bring the vaccine soon.

Replying to a question about the second dose for those who have already received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as the first dose, he said the vaccine can be taken three months after taking the first dose.

“Even in Canada, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been given with a four-month gap. So, we are getting time in this regard. We hope we will arrange the vaccine within the time,” the health minister said.

On April 29, Bangladesh has given the emergency use authorisation to Chinese Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine.

“We’ve given the emergency use authorisation to the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Sinopharm of China,” Maj Gen Md Mahbubur Rahman, director general of the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA), said on Thursday.

“This vaccine will be purchased officially by the government. China has also given 5 lakh doses as a gift. These shots will arrive in Bangladesh within two weeks,” the DGDA chief said.

Mentioning that the third-phase trial of the vaccine has been carried out on 55,000 people in five countries, he said another trial will be held on 1,000 people here after its arrival. “We’ll see safety and efficacy of Sinopharm vaccine and then it’ll be used in mass inoculation programme.”

The 2nd dose of the jab will be administered after 28 days of the first dose, Mahbubur said.

He also noted that the government-level talks are going on about the manufacture of Sinopharm vaccine in Bangladesh.

The DGHS chief said Incepta Pharmaceuticals has initially talked to the Chinese company about producing the vaccine in the country.

Earlier on April 27, Bangladesh approved the emergency use of Russian Sputnik V vaccine.

With this, Bangladesh has so far approved the use of three vaccines.

On January 8, the authorities approved the use of Oxford-AstraZeneca (Covishield) vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII).

The government started the Covid-19 vaccination programme with Covishield vaccine on February 7.

The government is likely to import 40 lakh doses of the Sputnik V vaccine within May.

Following uncertainty about getting the vaccine from the SII, the government on April 20 formed a committee to make recommendations to the Prime Minister's Office by April 26 for alternatives to Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for continuing the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

The committee suggested that Chinese Sinopharm and Russian Sputnik V vaccines can be used as alternatives.

The government also approved the local manufacturing of China's Sinopharm and Russia's Sputnik V vaccines.

Besides, talking to reporters on Monday, Prof Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, director general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), said Bangladeshi pharmaceuticals company Renata Limited has applied to the government for permission to import Moderna’s vaccine from United States.

“The Renata has applied to bring the Moderna vaccine. Necessary papers have been sent to Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) in this regard. They are scrutinising the papers whether the company has capacity to do that,” he said.

The DGHS chief said the government has the capacity to store the vaccine in Dhaka but there is no such facility outside the capital.