The Cabinet on Wednesday expressed the hope that Bangladesh will get the Covid-19 vaccine on priority basis, once it is ready, as the government is in touch with all the countries and organisations trying to develop it.
This optimism was expressed at the weekly Cabinet meeting held virtually with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the Chair.
The Prime Minister joined the meeting through a videoconference from her official residence Ganobhaban, while other cabinet members got connected from the Bangladesh Secretariat.
“Detailed discussions were held on Covid-19 vaccine today.... Bangladesh will get it on priority basis relatively at a lower price. Not only that but our one or more than one pharmaceutical companies will also be able to produce vaccines,” said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam at a press briefing after the meeting.
He said different countries across the world are in a race to develop vaccines since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Right from the beginning, we’ve been maintaining contacts regularly with all those who are in the race to produce it,” he said.
The Cabinet Secretary said Bangladesh will not allow any vaccine without recognition of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Following the WHO recognition as the baseline, the Health Ministry, the department concerned and some local pharmaceuticals are also in touch with those who are trying to develop it.
He said the government has kept aside an amount of Tk 600 crore under a project to procure the Covid-19 vaccine.
“So, there’ll be no lack of funds to procure the vaccine. Bangladesh will collect it from where it’s available,” the Cabinet Secretary added.
The Health Service Division briefed the Cabinet about the latest update over the Covid-19 vaccine.
He said the Prime Minister, in a video speech sent to the Global Vaccine Summit 2020 held in the UK on June 4 last, sought support from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI) in fighting off the pandemic with new vaccines. “It (proposal) was accepted. So, Bangladesh is also recognised an eligible country to get vaccine under GAVI,” said the Cabinet Secretary.
Anwarul Islam said some people claimed that Bangladesh has missed the opportunity to get free Covid vaccines saying that it is not true. “I think there's no scope to get the vaccine free of cost. It’s also unlikely to develop the vaccine before April next,” he said.
The Cabinet Secretary said so far 46 Covid-19 vaccines have been examined in clinical trials while 91 are in preclinical trials.
“We’re trying to procure the vaccine at the state level, while our pharmaceutical companies are also in negotiations with them (possible vaccine producers) to go on commercial production, when it’ll be available,” he said.