Govt to procure 15m doses of Chinese vaccine

Approves use of Pfizer jab

Staff Correspondent

28 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

The government has approved a proposal to purchase 15 million doses of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine from China at $10 per shot.

The approval was given on Thursday at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase with Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in the chair.

"Five million vaccine doses will arrive in Bangladesh each month in June, July and August," Additional Secretary Shahida Akter said at a briefing after the meeting.

The cabinet committee also approved the "Covid-19 Emergency Response and Pandemic Preparedness" project by the Health Department.

Under the project, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) will procure 1,154 personnel and 48 vehicle services (outsourcing) from UNFPA at a cost of Tk 1.34 billion.

On 29 April, the Department of Drug Administration of Bangladesh gave approval for emergency use of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine in the country.

Bangladesh government wrote a "letter of interest" to China proposing to buy four-five crore doses of Covid-19 vaccine by December.

Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming handed over 0.5 million doses of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine to Bangladesh as "special gift" from his country on May 12.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh has now given the emergency use authorisation (EUA) to Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. The Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) issued the emergency use authorisation to the Pfizer mRNA vaccine on Thursday.

The approval was issued as per recommendations of the committee for the evaluation of drug, investigational drug, vaccine and medical device in case of public health emergency, said a press release signed by DGDA Director General Maj Gen Md Mahbubur Rahman.

Produced by Pfizer Manufacturing Belgium NV, this is the 4th Covid-19 vaccine approved for emergency use in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh will get 1,00,620 doses of Pfizer vaccine under the Covax facility on May 30, the Health and Family Welfare Ministry said on Thursday.

This vaccine is applicable for people over 12 years of age.

However, according to the Bangladesh government's deployment plan, it will be provided for people of a certain age.

The Pfizer jab has two doses with the 2nd one given 3-4 weeks after the first shot.

It should be stored at minus 90 degrees Celsius to minus 60 degrees Celsius.

However, the vaccine will remain stable for five days at a temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius and two hours at 30 degrees Celsius, according to the DGDA.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorised storage of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at standard refrigerator temperatures for up to one month, in an effort to make the vaccine more widely available.

On April 29, the DGDA gave the emergency use authorisation to China’s Sinopharm vaccine, produced by Beijing Institute of Biological Products Co. Ltd of China.

Earlier on April 27, Bangladesh approved the emergency use of Russian Sputnik V vaccine, produced by Generium Joint Stock Company of Russia.

On January 8 last, 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.

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.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Thursday said work is underway to collect vaccines from Russia. “Today the Principal Secretary, Health Secretary and Foreign Secretary talked to the Russian authorities in this regard.”

The government has planned to bring six million doses of Sputnik V vaccine initially from Russia.