India to send some doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Bangladesh as a gift, says the health minister
While action at the policy level is underway to facilitate vaccination at private facilities in the country, the health authorities have said they will fix the price to avoid possible chaos.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque was speaking on Monday while replying to a question at a program – Meet the Reporters – in Dhaka, organized by Dhaka Reporters Unity.
“We will permit the bringing in and administering of the Covid-19 vaccine at private facilities. A government process is underway in this regard,” he said.
“A policy will be finalized and the price will also be fixed,” he added.
Asked whether the government and private vaccination in the same period would be similar, the minister said the administration of the vaccine would follow the policy strictly.
“There is no way to go beyond policy for both government and private organizations in order to avoid chaos in vaccination activities,” he added.
The minister said administering vaccines was a heavier task than that of bringing it.
42,000 health workers being trained
As part of this, the ministry was providing training to 42,000 health workers and volunteers as part of the Covid-19 vaccination program, Zahid Maleque said.
Besides, storage facilities had been increased while additional cold boxes and syringes had been purchased, he told journalists.
The minister said Serum Institute of India (SII) was expected to export its first lot of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to Bangladesh by January 25-26.
Besides, the Indian government would send some Covid-19 vaccines to Bangladesh as a gift, which was expected to reach the country very soon, he said.
The quantity of the vaccines to be received from India was still unknown but it would be a large amount, he said.
Also Read - India gifts 2m Oxford vaccine to Bangladesh
"We will get it soon, maybe before receiving the first lot of vaccines from Serum Institute of India [SII]."
Replying to a question over a possible adverse impact of the vaccine, Zahid Maleque said that the authorities were bringing in a vaccine that had very limited side effects and had not proven serious till now.
“Still, every vaccine has a side effect and knowing that, we are taking the vaccines of other diseases. People have to take the vaccine knowing that it might have side effects.
But as the vaccine would be provided at government facilities, medical assistance would be provided to persons experiencing side effects,” he added.
The minister explained the work the health authorities had done during the pandemic and said that the ministry would continue to develop its facilities.
Bangladesh was doing better than many other developed countries including the USA and the UK in curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus, the minister noted.
About WHO’s offer of the Pfizer vaccine, he said Bangladesh was interested in getting the vaccine – for 400,000 frontline workers – and had already written to WHO in this regard.
At the program, Mursalin Nomai, President of Dhaka Reporters Unity, urged the minister to facilitate the vaccination of all members of DRU and their family members and to establish a vaccination centre at the DRU office.
Also Read - Covid-19 vaccines set to roll out early February
In response, the minister said the number of journalists was small in comparison with other professions.
“So, we are hoping to vaccinate all the reporters in the country. It will start from Dhaka and reporters outside Dhaka will get it gradually,” he added.
The minister said the vaccination program would run in some 300 vaccination centres in the country and DRU could become another one alongside them.
300 vaccination centres
According to the DGHS, some 300 vaccination centres would be operated in the city in around 50 places. A six-member team with 2 vaccinators – one male and one female – would be deployed in one centre.
Some 7,344 teams would be deployed throughout the country.
The government has identified seven categories of institutes or their facilities to be used as vaccine centres.
According to the health authorities, the first consignment of vaccines will arrive on January 25. They will be transported to district and upazila level refrigerators by Beximco Pharmaceuticals on January 27.
The possible period of the start of the vaccination program will be the first week of February.
The vaccines will be administered in the muscle, with one vaccine candidate getting two doses within an eight-week interval.