Bangladesh has enhanced its capacity to preserve around 50 million Covid-19 vaccines, including those require ultra-cold freezing procedures.
“We can preserve around 7-8 million doses of vaccines like Pfizer one that need to be kept in ultra-cold stores. And we have also the capacity to preserve around 40 million doses of vaccines like AstraZeneca to be kept in normal cold boxes,” Dr Md Shamsul Haque, line director (MNC & AH) of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told the Daily Sun.
According to the DGHS, the country has the system to preserve vaccines at -2 to -8 degrees Centigrade and it is also able to keep vaccines in -60 to -70 degrees Celsius.
The DGHS sources said the Pfizer vaccine must be stored between -90 and -60 degrees Celsius. It can also be stored at 2 to 5 degrees Celsius for five days. At 30 degrees Celsius, the vaccine will be valid for two hours.
The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine requires temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius to remain stable for up to six months. The company highlights that it can be stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius in a standard or medical refrigerator for up to 30 days. If kept at room temperature, the vaccine can also be used for up to 12 hours.
The AstraZeneca vaccine can be distributed and stored with more ease than the other two vaccines as this jab can easily be administered in existing healthcare systems, stored at ‘fridge temperature’ (2-8 °C) and distributed using existing logistics.
According to the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA), the Sinopharm vaccine of China could be stored in a standard refrigerator between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius like the AstraZeneca one.
Addressing a press conference on Sunday, Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque said the government has received a total of 72.2 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine while it administered 36.1 million as first dose and 17.9 million as second dose in the country.
“We’ve administered a total of 54.1 million doses of vaccine and now 18.1 million doses are in our hand,” he said.
In a bid to increase the capacity to keep the vaccines that need to be stored in ultra-cold refrigerating system, UNICEF has provided 26 ultra-cold freezes to Bangladesh in August this year.
These ultra-low temperature freezers delivered through the Covax scheme are enabling Bangladesh to receive, store and distribute large quantities of Covid-19 vaccines that require ultra-cold storage, according to the UN agency.
Each of the 26 freezers can hold over 300,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines, supporting the administration of these jabs into districts beyond Dhaka.
Prof Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, DGHS director general, on Tuesday said, “We’ll use Pfizer vaccine for inoculating school students aged 12-17. We have big plan in this regard. We’ve fixed 21 vaccination centres across the country, where this (Pfizer) vaccine can be preserved, for the drive.”
The health minister on Sunday said, “We have now a stock of 6 million doses of Pfizer vaccine which will be given to 3 million students. Another 7 million doses will arrive this month. There’ll be no shortage of vaccine for children.”
He said the country will get around 35 million vaccine doses in October, around 37.5 million in November, around 50 million in December and around 37.5 million in January from various sources, including purchased ones and those under the Covax facility. “We’ll receive a total of around 160 million vaccine doses by January. However, the number may increase if there’s an increase in the jabs provided under the Covax facility,” he added.