Confusion at any stage may hamper such a large scale immunization program, according to the organization
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has urged the government to ensure maximum transparency in the procurement, collection, and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.
The organization also stressed the need to follow the relevant rules to avoid the recurrence of corruption in the health sector in the name of emergency procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.
The number of effective Covid-19 vaccines is still very low, while production and supply are limited. So, a worldwide competition to get vaccines has been noticed from the very beginning, said a TIB press release on Tuesday.
"Though the government's initiative to promptly collect Oxford-AstraZeneca shots from Serum Institute of India is commendable, the commercial agreement in this regard and the possibility of timely collection from this source could not avoid controversy, rather created some questions," said TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman.
He added that the way in which the Health Ministry has tried to call the trade agreement a G2G one, in the face of uncertainty over getting vaccines, is unwelcome.
Dr Iftekharuzzaman also said there are questions over how the existing laws of the Drug Administration were followed during the quick approval process of the Covishield vaccine, and on the basis of which file this decision was made.
Similarly, it is not clear whether there were rationales and considerations or what process and policy were followed while taking the decision by the government to pay the cost and commission money to Beximco for directly purchasing the vaccine.
"It is contrary to the transparency of government procurement at any level," he said.
Noting that the Health Ministry has suffered from indecision in the collection of Covid-19 vaccines from the beginning, Dr Iftekharuzzaman drew attention to the eventual cancellation of trials for China's Sinovac inoculation in Bangladesh after it had been initially approved.
Amid the controversy over the uncertainty in getting vaccines, the vaccine trial of local firm Globe Biotech was given necessary approval. At the same time, Bangladesh has decided to collect Covid-19 shots developed by Pfizer-BioNtech through COVAX, despite complexities over the preservation of these vaccines in Bangladesh, he said.
“Now the big question is whether the decision of collecting Pfizer vaccines will be effective when Bangladesh needs to have special freezing system for preservation of these Covid-19 doses in 56 districts out of 64, and it needs to have special syringes to inject these vaccines, according the government's assessment,” said the TIB executive director.
He said the government has planned to provide free vaccination to 80% of the population, depending on availability, but there are concerns that there may be confusion again in the vaccination process.
“People have no clear idea how the priority recipients of the vaccines will be set,” Dr Iftekharuzzaman said, putting emphasis on ensuring transparency and creating trust among the common people by removing the confusion in order to make such a large immunization program a success.