Bangladesh in talks with Pfizer and AstraZeneca, among others, for starting Covid-19 vaccine procurement from as early as January
Bangladesh has been in negotiations with almost all countries and companies – who have been developing Covid-19 vaccines – for procurement.
Nine such organizations across the world are purportedly in the final stages of producing Covid-19 vaccines, and Bangladesh is in touch with at least six of them.
Barrister Shah Ali Farhad, special assistant to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, revealed the information to Dhaka Tribune on Tuesday.
The government of Bangladesh has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bangladesh's Beximco Pharmaceuticals to get 30 million doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca/Oxford University – which just recently showed a success rate of 70%.
Under the deal, Bangladesh will get this vaccine at an early stage and it will be preserved at Beximco's cold storage, according to Farhad.
The country will be able to give out this vaccine to 15 million people (1.5 crore) in the first phase - two subsequent doses for each person. The two doses of vaccines will be administered with a gap of 28 days in between.
Interim results from Phase-3 trials in Britain and Brazil found the vaccine to be 70.4% protective on November 23.
This is a very good development as over 50% efficacy would suffice as per the World Health Organization (WHO), he said.
Subject to WHO approval, Bangladesh will get 5 million doses per month for six months starting from January 2021.
The Ministry of Finance has already approved Tk635.77 crore (approximately $75 million) as half payment in advance for SII.
The Health Ministry has already started preparing the proposal for a Tk318 crore TK ($37.4 million) for overall management of coldchain, vaccine storage, and distribution, training of vaccine administrators, among others.
About Tk100 crore ( $11.7 million) of this project is being borne by the government, while the rest is expected to come from development partners.
The Finance Ministry has already approved funding for the government’s share of costs in the project.
At the moment, the government of Bangladesh is not thinking about procuring the vaccines of Pfizer-BioNtech/Moderna as those are not suitable for Bangladesh due to temperature-related storage and distribution issues.
The government has already set priorities for the distribution of vaccine doses in the first phase once those will be collected: Health professionals, senior citizens (over the age of 60), frontline administrative, and law enforcement officials.
The government has already started compiling a list of senior citizens at the ward levels using the National Identity Card database.
The government has already collected the list of all public and law enforcement officials via the data sent by all civil surgeons of the country.
Those who will be selected for vaccine administration, will be provided with a receipt/card, which will state the place and date of administration, according to the lawyer.
In phases, all segments of the population will be covered.
It is estimated that the government will charge around $4-5 equivalent money (Tk350-450) for each dose of the vaccine. This is substantially cheaper than the other ones being developed.