Govt to procure 15m more doses of Sinopharm vaccine

Staff Correspondent

15 July, 2021 12:00 AM printer

The government is going to buy 15 million more doses of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine from China in a bid to step up its inoculation efforts that had been stalled for want of jabs.

The Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase (CCGP) in a virtual meeting held on Wednesday with Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in the chair approved a proposal of the Ministry of Health on Wednesday in this regard.

Earlier, the government signed a deal with China National Pharmaceuticals Group or Sinopharm to purchase 15 million shots of Covid-19 jab. Of them, 2 million doses have already reached Bangladesh. Now, a fresh deal has been signed to buy another 2 million doses.

Briefing reporters after the meeting virtually, Kamal said Sinopharm International will provide Bangladesh with these vaccine doses at a lower price compared to that mentioned in the earlier agreement.

He said as this is a selective purchase, it is not possible for the government to reveal the details of the procurement. The Ministry of Law has given vetting for this purchase of vaccine, he said.

Joining the briefing virtually, Cabinet Division’s Additional Secretary Md Shamsul Arefin said these vaccine doses will be procured from Sinopharm International under the supplementary agreement-1.

In order to meet the emergency requirements, Sinopharm may provide additional doses of vaccine, he added.

In addition to the 2 million procured doses that reached the country early this month, Bangladesh has received another 1.1 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine as a gift from China in the months of May and June.

Following a two-month break, the country resumed mass registration for Covid-19 vaccination from July 7.

To date, more than 10 million vaccine doses, including first and second shots, have been administered in the country of over 166 million people.

A pilot vaccination programme kicked off in the country on January 27 this year and a nationwide campaign started on February 7 by administering Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

On April 25, the government had to suspend the administering of the first dose, a day after India stopped exporting the vaccine due to a record-breaking surge in cases and deaths there.

In the first week of May, Bangladesh postponed registration for vaccination due to the shortage of vaccine supply.

Bangladesh signed a deal with India on December 13, 2020 to purchase 30 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in installments from the Serum Institute of India.

Dhaka, however, managed to get just 7 million doses in two installments although India gifted 3.2 million doses as a sign of friendship.

This time, Bangladesh will administer the Chinese Sinopharm and US Moderna vaccines to people. Bangladesh also received 2.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine provided by the US as a gift through the COVAX facility.