Bangladesh jointly with China is likely to start production of Covid-19 vaccine here in October aiming to expedite its ongoing inoculation drive to fight the deadly coronavirus.
The government has put emphasis on producing jabs locally as it takes more time to collect those from different countries.
Bangladeshi company Incepta Pharmaceuticals Ltd will go for co-production with China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) under the agreement.
Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine has been developed by Beijing Institute of Biological Products and China National Biotech Group Co Ltd (CNBG).
“Incepta Pharmaceuticals will produce the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine here. I’ve come to know that the Bangladesh government itself will procure the Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine will not be sold privately,” Prof Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, director general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told the Daily Sun.
Talking to the Daily Sun, Hasneen Muktadir, vice-chairman of Incepta Pharmaceuticals Ltd, said, “We can say about the vaccine co-production next week. However, we have the capacity to produce the vaccine here as per the government’s requirement.”
Sources at the pharmaceutical company said it may go for co-production of the vaccine from October this year if all necessary processes are completed in time.
“As per the Prime Minister’s directive, the finance ministry has approved a proposal to purchase the 6 crore vaccine doses through releasing money in time. Now the vaccine doses will be coming to the country in phases,” he said.
The Cabinet Committee on Purchase approved the proposal at a meeting on Wednesday with Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in the chair.
The country may receive the vaccine doses by November, Additional Secretary of Cabinet Division Shamsul Arefin told reporters after the meeting.
Earlier, the government purchased 1.5 crore doses of Sinopharm vaccine from China. Of the shots, Bangladesh has already received 70 lakh. Also, Bangladesh received 11 lakh doses of Sinopharm vaccine as gift.
A consignment of 17 lakh Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine shots, under the Covax facility, reached Dhaka on Wednesday evening from China. Another 17.7 lakh doses of Sinopharm vaccines under the Covax facility departed Beijing at 7:20am on Wednesday.
Besides, 10 lakh more Sinopharm vaccine may arrive in the country on Friday as gift from the Chinese government.
Meanwhile, the government has also taken initiative to manufacture coronavirus vaccine locally to ensure vaccination for all.
“The government itself will manufacture the coronavirus vaccine here through Essential Drugs Company Limited (EDCL). The high-powered committee formed to implement it has already held meetings and visited the site of the proposed plant in Gopalganj recently,” ABM Khurshid Alam said.
Talking to the Daily Sun, Prof Dr Ehsanul Kabir, managing director and CEO of Essential Drugs Company Limited (EDCL), recently said, “A plant may be set up in Gopalganj where another project of the EDCL is underway. We’ll manufacture the vaccine in the country.”
“We’re thinking about manufacturing a Messenger RNA (mRNA) Covid-19 vaccine here,” a member of the vaccine manufacturing planning committee, told the Daily Sun wishing not to be named.
The health minister on June 26 said the government will set up a vaccine manufacturing plant in Gopalganj soon.
The Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) has already given the emergency use authorisation to China’s Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine 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.