Bangladesh to get Covid vaccine from India on time: Health Minister

Bangladesh will receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute of India Pvt Ltd on time, Health Minister Zahid Maleque assured the people on Monday.

“Bangladesh has signed an international standard agreement with the Serum Institute. Moreover, India is a friendly country. The Indian high commissioner has also given assurance about providing vaccine. Bangladesh will get the vaccine on time,” he told a press briefing at his ministry.

This briefing was arranged to dispel concerns after news on the Indian government’s ban on vaccine export widely circulated in the media, sparking uncertainties.

Similar assurances came from the foreign minister and Beximco Pharma.

Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla said India will not allow the export of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for several months, according to an AP report.

SII — the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer — has been contracted to make 1 billion doses of the vaccine for developing nations. But the ban on exports means that poorer nations will probably have to wait a few months before receiving their first shots.

Indian regulator gave emergency authorisation to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on Sunday, but on the condition that Serum Institute doesn’t export the shots to ensure that vulnerable populations in India are protected, Poonawalla told AP.

He said that the company also has been barred from selling the vaccine on the private market.

“We can only give (the vaccines) to the government of India at the moment,” Adar Poonawalla said, adding the decision was also made to prevent hoarding.

Serum Institute is also negotiating bilateral agreements with individual countries including Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, Poonawalla told AP. “So that at least the most vulnerable in the states of our country or in other parts of other countries are taken care off,” he said.

Minister Maleque said all preparations to bring vaccine to the country are complete.

“We’ve been informed that the Indian government will send us vaccine on time as per the contract,” he said. “There’s no need to worry about vaccine at the moment.”

Last month, the government signed an agreement with Serum Institute for procuring Covid-19 vaccine. Under the deal, Bangladesh will import 30 million doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine (50 lakh in each month) from Serum Institute in the next six months.

Health Services Division Secretary Md Abdul Mannan said Bangladesh would receive the vaccine within February if things go well.

Last month, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said the country would get 30 million doses for 15 million people at the end of January or early February and 60 million more doses for 30 million more people by May-June.

Source: United News of Bangladesh