Some 20 vaccination centres in Dhaka forced to suspend services
With only around 140,000 doses left in stock, Bangladesh is slowly but surely running out of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines as the government desperately tries to secure further shipments of the immunizer to continue its inoculation campaign.
A little over 10 million doses of the vaccine, manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII), have been administered in the country till date, according to the Directorate General of Health Services.
Bangladesh started the Covid-19 vaccination campaign on February 7 and began administering second doses from April 8.
Holding out an assurance, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Friday said that Bangladesh would soon receive over a million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine under the Covax program.
A little over 5.8 million people have received the first shot while some 4.2 million people received both the doses of the two-dose regimen.
On April 25, the government suspended administering the first dose of the vaccine, just a day after India stopped exporting it to meet domestic demands.
As the SII was unable to provide further contractual shipments of the vaccine, more than 1.4 million people will have to wait indefinitely for their second dose.
Around 42 districts were unable to administer any Covid-19 vaccine on Friday. At least 20 centres in the capital have stopped inoculations as well after running out of vaccines.
On June 1, Bangladesh received the first consignment of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine comprising 100,620 doses, under the Covax scheme run by WHO and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
On May 12, China sent 500,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to Bangladesh as a gift. Beijing has assured that it will send another 600,000 doses of the vaccine to Dhaka.
The health authorities started administering the Chinese vaccine to medical college students on June 1.
Moreover, the Health Services Division is set to procure another 15 million Sinopharm shots in June, July and August.
On the other hand, Bangladesh is in talks with Russia to buy their Sputnik V vaccine. The authorities have also approved the emergency use of CoronaVac, produced by Chinese company Sinovac Biotech.