With this approval, Beximco Pharma can now begin the process to import the vaccine from India
The Bangladesh government has approved the emergency use of Covid-19 vaccine jointly developed by European pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
The Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) issued the approval on Monday evening, according to media reports.
When contacted, Brig Gen Mahbubur Rahman, director general of DGDA, also confirmed the matter to Dhaka Tribune.
"We held a meeting with our vaccine expert committee this evening," he said. "We reviewed all the reports on this vaccine, and then issued a no-objection certificate (NOC) on the emergency use of Oxford's Covid-19 vaccine in Bangladesh.”
Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd has collected the NOC from the DGDA, and using it, they can now begin the procedure to bring the vaccine from India, he further added.
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Earlier on Monday, amid the confusion that India had barred export of Covid-19 vaccines until its local needs were met, Health Minister Zahid Maleque and Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen both said there was no need to worry.
Saying that Bangladesh would get the delivery of its vaccine shipment from India on time, the foreign minister said: "Decision has been taken at the highest level, and that will be implemented. Nobody has to worry or get panicked," he told reporters, sharing the updates Ministry of Foreign Affairs had received from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.
Dr Momen said they had talked to the Indian External Affairs Ministry and the Indian High Commission in Dhaka once they had learnt about the report of ban, reports UNB.
"Bangladesh must not be concerned as commitment has been made at the highest level. Nothing to worry," he added.
Beximco Pharma also made the assurance that the first shipment of Covid-19 vaccines from the Serum Institute of India (SII), with whom Beximco has signed a deal, would arrive on time.
“We hope to get the vaccine as per the agreement,” Beximco Pharma's Chief Operating Officer Rabbur Reza said on Monday.
“We are in constant touch with them. We have spoken with Serum (Institute of India) even today. They have assured us,” he added.
Responding to a query on India barring export of vaccines, Reza said: “Serum Institute has already received requests for vaccines from some 70 countries. But they want to give priority to Bangladesh.”
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He further said the contract between the two neighbouring countries stipulates that Bangladesh will receive the first shipment of vaccine doses within a month after it approves it.
After the UK authorized the vaccine on Wednesday, India’s drug regulator on Friday approved the vaccine for emergency use.
The Serum Institute of India (SII) is the local manufacturer of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
In November, Bangladesh signed an agreement with the SII, through which Beximco Pharma will avail 30 million doses of the vaccine.
In the initial six months of the first phase, SII is supposed to provide five million vaccine doses per month to Bangladesh through Beximco.