The government is making its efforts to procure more Covid-19 vaccines from different countries, including China and Russia, to continue the national vaccination programme.
“The government is putting its efforts into bringing Covid-19 vaccines to continue the vaccination programme. We’ve already sent a draft proposal to China to purchase Sinopharm vaccine and are in contact with Russia to bring Sputnik V jab,” Prof Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, director general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told the Daily Sun on Sunday.Mentioning that the government has sought 1-1.5 crore doses of Sinopharm vaccine from China, he said the Chinese company said they can give the vaccine as per their production capacity.
The DGHS chief, however, said they were yet to get any response from Russia about the Sputnik V vaccine.
He said they are trying to procure vaccines from other countries, including the US and the UK, too.
The government has reopened online registration on www.surokkha.gov.bd for people aged over 40. Family members of frontline fighters who are over 18 years are also eligible to take the vaccine.
Initially, the government planned to inoculate only the prioritised, frontline workers and everyone aged over 55.
The government has planned to bring all eligible people under the vaccination programme in phases, Health Ministry sources said.The DGHS on May 6 halted the registration process due to the vaccine crisis. A total of 7,248,829 people had registered for the coronavirus vaccine until May 5. The registration process started on January 27 after the inauguration of the National Vaccination Programme by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The government had started the nationwide inoculation on February 7 with Oxford-AstraZeneca (Covishield) vaccine.
The DGHS said 5,819,811 people received the first dose of the vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII). The administering of the first dose was suspended on April 26 due to the vaccine shortage. A total of 4,015,522 people have taken the second dose until Sunday.
With this, 9,835,493 vaccine doses have so far been used while 464,507 are now in stock.
Bangladesh has so far got 1.3 crore doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Of the total vaccine shots, the government purchased 70 lakh from the SII and received 33 lakh more as a gift from the Indian government.
Around 20 lakh more doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are needed to complete the second dose of the vaccination with the same jab as there is a shortage of around 15 lakh shots.
“However, we have time to give the second dose with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as the vaccine can be given with a gap of 12 weeks,” the DGHS chief said.
Speaking at the health bulletin of the DGHS on Sunday, its spokesperson Dr Md Nazmul Islam said, “The stock of the Covishield vaccine will be finished after this week. The vaccine doses were distributed to different centres as per the number of registered vaccine seekers.”
Mentioning that the government has taken initiative to bring the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from the US and the UK, he said it has not yet taken any decision about using other vaccine as the second dose. “We hope we’ll get the same vaccine in time,” he said.
Nazmul said the government will start the administering of first dose of Chinese Sinopharm vaccine in the current month as per the priority list.
On May 12, China provided Bangladesh with 5 lakh doses of vaccine manufactured by Sinopharm. China also announced on Friday that they would provide Bangladesh with 6 lakh more Covid-19 vaccine doses as gift.
Bangladesh gave the emergency use authorisation to Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine on April 29 and approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine on April 27.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved a proposal in principle on May 19 to procure the Sinopharm jab.
The Bangladesh government has signed a non-disclosure agreement with China on purchasing Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine and producing it here.
Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque earlier said the Bangladesh government has a plan to buy 4-5 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccine doses from China by December.