Chinese Vaccine: 5 lakh doses may arrive on May 10
Bangladesh will receive over five lakh doses of China's Sinopharm vaccine on May 10 if everything goes as planned.
Officials are making preparations to receive the shots that will be used as the first jab.
The government may send a special plane to bring the doses from Beijing, officials said.
"We have written to the foreign ministry to take action. Bangladesh Air Force will probably bring the vaccine from Beijing on May 10," Syed Mojibul Huq, additional secretary of the Health Services Division of the health ministry, told The Daily Star yesterday.
The Chinese embassy in Dhaka on April 29 in a letter addressed to Joint Secretary Shahriar Kader Siddiky of the Economic Relations Division said a special flight would be needed to bring the 5,02,400 doses.
It mentioned that Beijing would confirm the dispatch once the flight was confirmed.
If Bangladesh needs syringes, the Bangladesh government will have to notify, the letter read.
"We forwarded everything to the health ministry which will take the necessary action," Shahriar told The Daily Star.
Additional Secretary Mojibul said the health division received the letter and forwarded it to the foreign ministry, requesting necessary steps.
The Bangladesh government approved emergency use of the Sinopharm vaccine last week.
The Directorate General of Drug Administration then informed journalists that it would inoculate 1,000 people first and review the outcome. Mass inoculation will launch later.
In early 2020, the Beijing Institute of Biological Products developed an inactivated coronavirus vaccine called BBIBP-CorV. China, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Pakistan and some other countries across the world are currently using it.
The World Health Organization has yet to approve it, but the WHO's advisory panel said the Sinopharm has presented data on its vaccine indicating the levels of efficacy.
This vaccine consists of two doses to be administered 28 days apart.
Bangladesh's mass inoculation programme stumbled after the Serum Institute of India failed to ship the vaccine.
As per an agreement, Bangladesh was supposed to receive three crore shots in six months. Serum delivered the first 50 lakh doses in January, but shipped only 20 lakh in February. No shipment has been made since.
Looking for alternative sources, the government has been in talks with vaccine suppliers in Russia and China .
Last week, the government approved in principle the local co-production of Russia's Sputnik V and Sinopharm vaccines.
A meeting was held between the health officials and the representatives of three companies to discuss the co-production of Sputnik V.
Health secretary and other officials of health ministry were present in the meeting where the private drugmakers were asked to communicate with the Russian vaccine authorities.
"Russian vaccine authorities will come and inspect those factories and then the issue of co-production will be settled," Prof Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, director general of DGHS, told The Daily Star.
He also said representatives from Incepta Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Popular Pharmaceuticals Ltd and Healthcare Pharmaceuticals Ltd were present in the meeting.