DGDA approved Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use on April 29
Two Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) aircraft are set to leave Bangladesh for China on Saturday to bring back 600,000 doses of the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine.
Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport Executive Director Group Captain AHM Touhid-ul Ahsan said the two C-130J aircraft would depart for China on Saturday night and are set to return with the vaccines around 5:30pm on Sunday.
This is the second consignment of vaccine doses that China is sending to Bangladesh as a gift. The first consignment of 500,000 doses were handed over on May 12.
On Wednesday, Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming said a "very pragmatic" discussion was underway between Bangladesh and China on the procurement of Covid-19 vaccine doses to meet Bangladesh's needs.
He also said there was “very encouraging progress" between the two countries over coproduction of vaccines.
On May 27, the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase approved the Health and Family Welfare Ministry's proposal to buy Sinopharm vaccine doses.
As per the approval, the Health Services Division of the ministry will procure the Sinopharm shots in June, July, and August.
The Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) approved the Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use on April 29. Apart from this, Pfizer-BioNTech, Russia's Sputnik V, and Covishield were also given approval.
Bangladesh started its nationwide Covid-19 vaccination program on February 7 by administering Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII).
The country received seven million Covishield doses through its contract. Besides, India gave Bangladesh 3.3 million vaccines as a gift.
On April 25, the government suspended administering the first doses with Covishield, just a day after India said no more vaccine doses would be shipped to Bangladesh anytime soon. As SII have been unable to provide the number of doses they promised, many people are waiting for second jabs after receiving their first.
The health authorities administered the Sinopharm vaccine to 500 medical college students on May 25.
Also, Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) administered the Sinopharm vaccine to over 450 Chinese citizens.
On May 31, the country received more than 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine under the Covax facility run by the World Health Organization and Gavi, the vaccine alliance.
Bangladesh also sought two million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doses from the US, once the latter announced on April 26 that it would share the vaccine with the world.
The US government told Bangladesh that they would give the vaccine doses, but they had yet to decide how many doses they would be able to provide to Bangladesh.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has said he hopes the US will honour Bangladesh by providing the AstraZeneca vaccine doses, apart from other vaccines.
Bangladesh needs at least 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine immediately, for second doses.
The US reportedly wants to give Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to Bangladesh.
On June 3, the White House announced its plan to share vaccines directly with Bangladesh as part of a framework to provide 80 million vaccine doses globally by the end of the month.