No shipment arrived in last 2 months Covid vaccine stock running out fast20 April 2021 Special Correspondent
A patient with coronavirus is being taken to DNCC’s dedicated Covid-19 Hospital in the capital with oxygen support after the hospital started its operation including patient admission on Monday.
Last year, Bangladesh government signed a trilateral deal with Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bangladesh's Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd to procure 30 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from the Indian company.
Under the deal, Bangladesh was supposed to receive 5 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine each month from Pune-based Serum Institute, the world's largest vaccine producer.
However, no vaccine shipment has arrived in the last two months triggering a wave of uncertainty over the ongoing mass vaccination programme against the deadly coronavirus.
Neither the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) nor Beximco Pharma knows when the next shipment of Serum's vaccines will arrive.
Nazmul Hassan Papon, MP, Managing Director of Beximco Pharma, could not be reached for comment.
Official sources said India's curb on vaccine export stalled SII's deliveries and it is likely to affect Bangladesh's ongoing vaccination programme.
The stock of 10.2 million Covid-19 vaccine doses Bangladesh has received so far is set to run out around the end of May, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
DGHS Non-Communicable Disease Control (NCDC) Unit Line Director Dr Mohammad Robed Amin said: "If 100,000 people are vaccinated every day, the remaining vaccines will last around 20 days, hardly a month."
Bangladesh launched a nationwide vaccination drive on February 7 with the aim of vaccinating 130 million people for free.
As many as 5.7 million people have taken the first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India as of Sunday, according to the DGHS.
Besides, 900,000 people have received second doses as of April 18.
A total 7,088,469 people have registered for the vaccine in the country so far.
Officials said the ongoing mass vaccination programme would face serious setback if shipments from SII arrives soon. Besides, the stock of vaccines will run out before everyone receives his or her second dose.
Considering the fact, the DGHS is looking for new vaccine sources from Russia and China.
Dr Robed Amin said: "Bangladesh authorities have already engaged talks with WHO for getting 10.9 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine under the Covax programme by May 2021. If we get those vaccines, the vaccination programme would remain unhurt."
Prof Nazrul Islam, a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19, said: "Uncertainty over getting vaccine from SII could hurt Bangladesh's ongoing vaccination efforts. The uncertainty has created because of government's dependence on a single source to get vaccine doses."
"Bangladesh needs to ramp up vaccination in the wake of alarming rise in coronavirus cases and deaths. The drives are crucial in reviving the domestic economy, which was battered by the pandemic," said economist Dr Ahsan Mansur, adding, "The government has already enforced countrywide lockdown in a bid to control the infection. The measure will also affect the economy afresh."