Ensuring Vaccination for All

Bangladesh to produce corona vaccine

Mohammad Al Amin

8 July, 2021 12:00 AM printer

The government has taken initiatives to manufacture coronavirus vaccine locally to ensure vaccination for all across the country.

“The government will manufacture the coronavirus vaccine here. A high-powered committee led by the minister (health and family welfare minister Zahid Maleque) has been formed to in this regard,” Prof Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, director-general of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told the Daily Sun.

Mentioning that the matter of vaccine manufacturing is now in the initial stage, he said the government already has started working in this regard.

The DGHS chief said the Essential Drugs Company Limited (EDCL), the only state-owned Pharmaceuticals Company in Bangladesh, will manufacture the vaccine through setting up a manufacturing plant. “The Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing plant might be set up in Gopalganj,” he added.

Talking to the Daily Sun, Prof. Dr. Ehsanul Kabir, Managing Director and CEO of Essential Drugs Company Limited (EDCL) said “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken the decision to manufacture Covid-19 vaccine in the country and she has given us necessary directives. Now the matter is in the primary stage.”

“A plant may be set up in Gopalganj where another project of the EDCL is underway. However, we didn’t take any decision yet whether we will go for joint collaboration or manufacture the vaccine alone. But we will do it (manufacture the vaccine in the country),” he added.

The EDCL Managing Director also said they are already discussing with various vaccine companies about manufacturing the vaccine in Bangladesh. 

Vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Prof Dr Md. Sharfuddin Ahmed, also a member of the national vaccine manufacturing committee, said, “We will hold a meeting soon to discuss manufacturing the vaccine in the country.”

“We are thinking about manufacturing a Messenger RNA (mRNA) Covid-19 vaccine here,” a member of the vaccine manufacturing plan committee told the Daily Sun wishing not to be named.

According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Presentation (CDC), mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. The mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies.

“The benefit of mRNA vaccines, like all vaccines, is those vaccinated gain protection without ever having to risk the serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19,” it added.

Health Minister Zahid Maleque MP on June 26 said the government will set up a vaccine manufacturing plant in Gopalganj soon. 

China has recently said the Chinese vaccine companies are intensely working with Bangladeshi pharmaceuticals for the production of Covid-19 vaccines in Bangladesh.

Diplomatic sources in Dhaka and Beijing confirmed that the vaccine production in Bangladesh would hopefully start in the next couple of months.

“Chinese vaccine Research and Development (R&D) companies are working with Bangladeshi partners for future vaccine co-producing in Bangladesh,” Hualong Yan, Deputy Ambassador of the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka, said.

Meanwhile, confirming the development towards early vaccine production in Bangladesh, a Bangladeshi diplomat in Beijing said there will be a lot of vaccine-related cooperation between Bangladesh and China in near future.

“Yes, there is a positive development towards co-production in Bangladesh. Bangladeshi manufacturers have to be given a timeframe to start production of vaccine within two months,” he said, adding that the Bangladesh government will provide all necessary facilities so that the local companies can start production within the timeframe.

The diplomat further said that both the Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products (BBIBP) and Sinovac Life Sciences Co. Ltd are interested in producing vaccine with local partners in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) has already given the emergency use authorization to China’s “Sinopharm” COVID-19  vaccine manufactured by the Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products (BBIBP) and “CoronaVac”, manufactured by Sinovac Life Sciences Co. Ltd.

Earlier, both the Chinese vaccines received approval from the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use.

The Bangladesh government has also permitted a Chinese company to carry out the phase-III trial of its IMBCAMS Covid-19 vaccine here.

Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) said it has allowed the phase-3 trial of the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed by the Institute of Medical Biology of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (IMBCAMS).