Vaccination with Chinese jab starts in Bangladesh

Staff Correspondent

26 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Bangladesh has started to provide Chinese Sinopharm vaccine for the people of the country under the national vaccination against Covid-19.

Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque inaugurated the pilot programme of the vaccination at a function in Dhaka Medical College Hospital on Tuesday.

The inaugural programme began with the inoculation of six students of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH). Over 171 students of the medical college received the vaccine on the first day.

Speaking at the inaugural function, Zahid Maleque said fifth-year students of medical colleges will be inoculated with Sinopharm vaccine initially on a priority basis. And students of other government medical colleges will be vaccinated in phases.

Mentioning that the prime minister has already given an order to manufacture coronavirus vaccine in Bangladesh, he said a discussion is going on in this regard with all sides.

“The activities of vaccine manufacturing will begin in the country soon. The vaccine will also be exported abroad after meeting local demand,” he said.

The health minister said discussions with China and Russia about importing Covid-19 vaccine is now at the final stage.

“At the same time, the discussions with the US and the UK are also progressing,” he said.

He further said there is a shortage of 15 lakh Oxford-AstraZeneca, but the vaccine can be taken even after four months.

“We have two months left. We will be able to give the second dose to those who have not received the second dose yet within the next two months. The government is making all necessary efforts to this end."

On the first day of the vaccination, Sinopharm vaccine was administered to 501 students of Dhaka Medical College, Mugda Medical College, Sir Salimullah Medical College and Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College in Dhaka.

About 1,000 students of medical colleges will receive first dose of Sinopharm vaccine, DGHS sources said.

Medical students of other colleges in the country will receive the Chinese vaccine after 10 days.

The sources said all government medical students and front-line healthcare workers will get the Chinese vaccine gradually on a priority basis.

On May 12, Bangladesh government received five lakh doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by the Chinese government company Sinopharm, as gift.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has confirmed his Bangladeshi counterpart on May 19 that they will send another six lakh doses of the same vaccine as gift.

The Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) on April 29 gave emergency use authorisation to Chinese Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine in Bangladesh.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said on Tuesday, “We will buy 1.5 crore vaccines from China. The vaccine will start to come in June-July. Five million vaccine doses will be brought every month.”

"Discussions on buying vaccine from China are positive. The deal in this regard is almost final. It will be completed very soon," he told reporters following a meeting with UN General Assembly President Volkan Bozkır at the Foreign Service Academy.

All the three documents – on non-disclosure, letter of commitment and sales agreement – "smoothened out", he said, adding: "We believe it will be free flow of vaccine."

A Chinese team will also visit Bangladesh in a week or so to see feasibility of vaccine coproduction, he noted.

The foreign minister said the discussion with Russia is also at the final stage. Now some nitty-gritty is being worked out by the health ministry.

"We will also get vaccine from COVAX. So, we think there will not be problem of vaccine supply in the coming days," he said.

According to media reports, China has already deployed millions of doses of both vaccines at home and has exported them to many countries.

Sinopharm uses inactivated coronavirus to make their vaccines — a tried-and-true method dating back over 130 years. The company uses chemicals to disable the virus’s genes so that it cannot replicate. Yet the inactivated coronavirus can cause the body’s immune system to produce antibodies against it.

The vaccine could be stored in a standard refrigerator between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius like the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

According to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization has issued interim recommendations for the use of the inactivated COVID-19 vaccine BIBP developed by Sinopharm/China National Pharmaceutical Group.

The vaccine is not recommended for persons younger than 18 years of age, pending the results of further studies in that age group.

SAGE recommends the use of BIBP vaccine as 2 doses (0.5 ml) given intramuscularly. WHO recommends an interval of 3–4 weeks between the first and second dose. If the second dose is administered less than 3 weeks after the first, the dose does not need to be repeated. If administration of the second dose is delayed beyond 4 weeks, it should be given at the earliest possible opportunity. It is recommended that all vaccinated individuals receive two doses.

About safety of the vaccine, SAGE has thoroughly assessed the data on quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine and has recommended its use for people aged 18 and above.

“A large multi-country Phase 3 trial has shown that 2 doses, administered at an interval of 21 days, have an efficacy of 79% against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection 14 or more days after the second dose. Vaccine efficacy against hospitalization was 79%,” it added.

END/Al Amin/Bidyut