Procuring Sinopharm Vaccine

Efforts underway to normalise situation

6 June, 2021 12:00 AM printer

The government is putting in its best efforts through diplomatic channels to “make things normal” and procure 1.5 crore doses of Sinopharm vaccine from China as planned though the situation looks “different” to some extent following price disclosure, officials said.

“We’re doing our best to make things normal,” a senior government official told UNB.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen had a meeting with Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming and discussed the issue, among other things, explaining the whole situation.

“Our Ambassador in Beijing is trying desperately with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He remains engaged,” another official told UNB, mentioning that the price disclosure has given a lot of “inconvenience” to the Chinese company.

Revealing the contract price of the vaccine doses is against the “confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement” and the price for Bangladesh by Sinopharm is among the lowest in all countries, a diplomatic source said adding that the price also depends on who is procuring when.

Bangladesh has also written to relevant parties in China mentioning that it was an “unintentional” mistake to reveal the price of vaccine per dose.

On May 27, the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase approved a proposal for buying 1.5 crore doses of Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccine.

Right after the meeting, a Cabinet Division official told reporters at a briefing that they would purchase the vaccine at $10 per dose. It is not clear yet whether the government would be able to buy the Sinopharm vaccine doses at this price in the future.

A consignment of 20 million of China’s Sinopharm vaccines is expected to arrive in Sri Lanka this month and is reported that Sri Lanka has purchased one dose of the vaccines at $15, according to the Daily Mirror.

Before the price disclosure, Bangladesh was assured by the Chinese government that they would keep 15 million vaccine doses for Bangladesh.

On the other hand, India is currently focusing on their own vaccination programme instead of export considering their domestic situation.

“I think you’d appreciate that against this background it wouldn’t be right to talk about the supply of vaccines abroad just now. As we’ve repeatedly conveyed, we’re currently proposing domestic vaccine production for our own vaccination programme,” said Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

He said the government of India has been making all efforts to augment the availability of vaccines in India, whether through enhanced production in the country, or through supply from abroad.

 

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said 6.80 crore doses of coronavirus vaccine will be available from the Covax facility under the World Health Organisation for 20 percent of our population, that is, for 3.40 crore people. Out of this 1.06 lakh doses have already been received.

Apart from India and China, there are plans to buy vaccines from the governments of China and Russia, Pfizer Co. from the USA and Sanofi/GSK from France/Belgium.

Negotiations are underway on procuring Sputnik-V vaccine from Russia, and, if necessary, manufacturing the same in Bangladesh.

The World Bank provided US$ 500 million for procuring COVID vaccines and US$ 14.87 million for logistics support.

Loan Agreement for US$ 940 million with the ADB to procure COVID vaccine is at the final stage. Alongside, there is a good possibility to receive support for vaccine procurement from the European Investment Bank and AIIB.

Plans have been worked out to vaccinate 80 percent of the people in phases, and people with risks will be vaccinated in the first phase. The first dose of vaccination began on February 7 while that of the second dose began on 8 April.

 


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