Alamgir Hossain, Additional SP of Airport Armed Police, confirmed UNB that a flight of Air India carrying the vaccine shipment reached Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 11:05 am.
On Thursday last, Dhaka received 20 lakh doses of Covid vaccine as the Indian government sent the jabs as a gift to Bangladesh.
With the fresh ones, 70 lakh doses of vaccine are now there in government hand for launching the national vaccination against Covid-19.
Bangladesh signed an agreement with the Serum Institute of India (SII) through Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd. to procure three crore doses of Covishield.
Talking to reporters at the airport, Nazmul Hassan Papon, the Managing Director of Beximco Pharma, said, “As per the deal, 50 lakh doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine will arrive in the country each month for six months. We received the first consignment today (Monday).
He said they will preserve the imported jabs at their three warehouses with a capacity of accommodating one crore doses.
Bangladesh is getting the vaccine right after India while the other countries will get it in May-June. At first, the government has asked us to provide the vaccine to 8-10 districts in Bangladesh but now we’ve to provide the vaccine in 64 districts of the country which is a big challenge,” Papon said.
Asked whether Beximco has any plan to manufacture any vaccine developed by others like SII, Papon said three companies, including the US pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson, may come up with their Covid vaccine in the next 2-3 months. “We’re interested in the vaccine of Johnson & Johnson as it has only one dose. If these vaccines come to the market, we’ll then decide about the manufacture of the vaccine.”
He said the vaccine doses arrived today will be taken straight to their warehouses in Tongi from the airport. They will send the jabs to all districts once the necessary procedures are completed, Papon added.
Earlier on Sunday, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said, “India has already provided us 2 million doses. Five million doses will come on Monday as per our contract. The rest (25 million doses) will come in phases.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate a pilot vaccination drive on January 27 at Kurmitola Hospital. A nurse will receive the first jab there.
The minister said the government has a list of everyone who will be vaccinated in phases. Maleque, however, said the government will not force anyone to receive the vaccine.
He said the government is in talks with Russia, China and others for collecting more vaccines.
In November last year, the government of Bangladesh, Beximco Pharmaceuticals, and Serum Institute of India (SII) entered into a tripartite agreement to buy 30 million doses of Covishield, SII's brand name for the vaccine developed by Oxford University and British-Swedish pharma giants AstraZeneca.
Under the agreement, the Bangladesh government will pay SII for the 30 million doses of the vaccine while Beximco Pharma will receive a separate fee for its distribution role. Beximco Pharma is the exclusive distributor of the vaccine in Bangladesh and will be responsible for maintaining the cold chain, import, storage, and delivery of the vaccine.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine was proven to be safe with no major side-effects reported throughout human trials. It generates strong antibody and T-cells response for long-term immunity against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
In June 2020, SII signed an agreement with AstraZeneca, the Gates Foundation and GAVI to produce 100 crore doses of AZD1222 under the brand name Covishield, mainly for supply to developing countries.
Covid-19 situation in Bangladesh
Eighteen more people died of Covid-19 in Bangladesh and another 602 got infected by the deadly virus in the past 24 hours till Monday morning.
The death toll from the pandemic rose to 8,041 while the total caseload reached 5,32,401, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).