Even after a dearth in the supply of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the government has decided to continue administering the first dose and to start giving the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine as scheduled.
"The Prime Minister has made it clear to follow the prefixed roll-out plan for the second dose of the Covid-19 mass vaccine inoculation scheduled to start from April 8," Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam told reporters yesterday.
During the briefing after the weekly Cabinet meeting, he also said that the government has enough stock to begin administering the second dose.
"I had a conversation with the health director general. There will be no problems. While we are administering the vaccine in hand, more will come," Islam added.
The health directorate also issued a fresh directive on April 4 saying that administering the first dose will continue simultaneously along with the second dose.
The countrywide vaccination campaign will continue during the "lockdown" and the month of Ramadan, said a circular from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Covid-19 Vaccine Preparedness and Deployment Core Committee on Sunday.
Those who have received the first dose will receive a confirmation text message for the second dose from April 5 onward, said the DGHS circular.
It also said that from tomorrow Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd will start transporting the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to different district-level government storages as per the distribution list.
As of yesterday, the government has inoculated 55,39,494 people, while 69,45,678 people have registered with the Surokkha app for vaccination.
The mass inoculation campaign started on February 7 with 70 lakh vaccine doses in hand.
The country got 50 lakh doses of the Oxford vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII) on January 25. The country also received 20 lakh doses of Oxford vaccine as gift from the Indian government.
The 50 lakh doses were the first instalment of the three crore vaccines the country purchased from the SII. As per the agreement, the government was supposed to get 50 lakh doses of vaccines each month for six months.
But the government received only 20 lakh doses of vaccines in the second instalment on February 22. The country received another 12 lakh doses of Oxford vaccine as gift from India last month, taking the combined tally to 1.2 crore so far.
However, the government was yet hear anything concrete from the SII or its local agent Beximco Pharmaceuticals Limited regarding the third consignment, which was due late last month.
Besides, the Covax programme, led by the World Health Organisation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has committed to give Bangladesh a total of 6.8 crore vaccine shots. As part of the commitment, the country is expected to receive 10,908,000 shots of the Oxford vaccine by May.
Global media reports said that the Indian government has reportedly imposed a temporary restriction on all major exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine made by the SII to meet domestic demands.
India's decision on restriction has also impacted the global supply chain of the vaccine, global media also reported.
Nazmul Hassan Papon, managing director of Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd, on Sunday told The Daily Star that they were yet to get any specific date from the SII about the next consignment.