Bangladesh looking for more sources to get vaccines

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The government is sounding out other companies to immunise its 170 million-strong population after securing 30 million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

Bangladesh needs 340 million doses of vaccines— two shots per head— to vaccinate its population, reports bdnews24.com.

The country will get five million doses of the University of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine a month from the Serum Institute of India, with the first consignment expected next week.

The government is also looking to securing doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine under the COVAX programme led by the World Health Organization and global alliance GAVI.

Bangladesh has written to the COVAX for the unspecified amount of doses, but it does not have the infrastructure to store and transport the Pfizer vaccine that requires storage at a temperature of -70 degrees Celsius.

GAVI is expected to provide the country with around 68 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to inoculate 20 per cent of the population.

Health Minister Zahid Maleque points out that no single company can supply so many doses quickly because of the high demand all over the world.

So, he says, the government is working to bring more doses from other companies at the soonest. It is trying to buy the doses from Russia, Moderna of the US and France’s Sanofi.

India’s Bharat Biotech and China’s Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical are interested in trialling their vaccine candidates in Bangladesh.

According to Maleque, the two companies may get clearance from the relevant authorities to run clinical trials by conforming to the rules.

Anhui Zhifei has worked with the Chinese government and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is aware of their proposal, he says. “They can conduct the trials after completing the process for the approval.”

The government, adds the health minister, is in touch with the countries that want, or have the ability, to provide Bangladesh with vaccines, .

“We don’t want to get stuck with only one company. We’ve talked to Moderna and Sanofi as well. They haven’t said anything yet.

“We’ve talked to Russia more than once,” reveals Maleque. “We’ll consider approving their vaccine if they apply with proper documents. We’ll also take the vaccine if it follows the protocol. But Russia hasn’t applied yet.”❐

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