Health Service Division Secretary Abdul Mannan disclosed the development on Tuesday afternoon
Health authorities said they have already been instructed to purchase 30 million more doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII), as 4,655,464 people had completed vaccine registration across Bangladesh as of Wednesday evening.
Health Service Division Secretary Abdul Mannan disclosed the development after attending a program in Dhaka on Tuesday afternoon.
According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), a total 3,460,159 people had been vaccinated as of Wednesday evening, including 2,221,269 men and 1,238,890 women.
Only 11 adverse events were reported on Wednesday, taking the total number of adverse events since the nationwide vaccination campaign began on February 7 to 784.
Giving assurances about the availability of the vaccine in the country, the HSD secretary said: “Amidst the ongoing vaccination program, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already instructed authorities to purchase 30 million more vaccines. They will also be purchased from the Serum Institute.”
In response to a question about bringing Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, he said: “We are negotiating to bring the vaccine to the country. Once we receive any scope to do so, we will bring it.”
Administering the vaccine would save time, he said, adding that the authorities would continue with the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine if they are unable to procure Johnson & Johnson’s version.
Two shipments of the vaccine doses purchased under the first agreement with SII have already arrived in the country. Bangladesh is also set to receive more vaccine doses through the Covax program before June.
Johnson & Johnson's vaccine received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last Saturday.
During its trial, the J&J's vaccine was shown to be 66% effective at preventing coronavirus infections altogether, and 85% effective at preventing severe Covid-19 cases, requiring four weeks to take effect. The vaccine is said to be more effective in younger people.
During a special meeting on Covid-19 vaccine deployment and management at the Health Ministry, Health minister Zahid Maleque said the country will receive 10.9 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine from Covax.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are co-leads of the Covax initiative. They have published Covax's first round of allocations.
The list will be updated by the end of the week to provide tentative timelines for the supply of doses, split into the months of February, March, April and May.
Health Service Division Secretary Abdul Mannan said they have been informed that a shipment of the vaccine will be received this month, but the exact date is yet to be confirmed.
Zahid Maleque also informed that the age limit for registration will be revised again once enough doses of the vaccines arrive. The first phase of inoculation will continue until June or July.
The plan is to administer 40 million vaccines by July.
Foreigners will also receive vaccines from the government, according to the list by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he added.
The minister said a meeting will be held every fifteen days to ensure smooth management of the vaccination program.