As Covid-19 cases yesterday crossed the 4.5 lakh mark, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked officials concerned to prepare for theproper supply and distribution of the vaccine before it arrives in the country.
The premier issued the directive at the meeting of Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) held at the NEC conference room in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar yesterday, Planning Secretary Mohd Asadul Islam said following the meeting.
Hasina also said there should be proper management to ensure there is no waste as the vaccine is a "sensitive" drug.
On November 5, the government signed a trilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bangladesh's Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd to collect three crore doses of Covid-19 vaccines from Serum.
Pune-based Serum has an agreement with AstraZeneca to manufacture the vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, being developed by Oxford University. The vaccine has been named Covishield in India.
Once the vaccine is approved for human application, Beximco Pharma will buy each dose from Serum for $4 and then supply it to the government for $5.
The three crore doses will be delivered in phases with 50 lakh doses every month, according to the agreement.
Some 1.5 crore people will be vaccinated and each will need two doses.
Besides, the government will get vaccines from Gavi, the vaccine alliance, under the supervision of the World Health Organization.
Officials said transportation and preservation of the vaccines while maintaining the exact cold chains will be a challenge.
The vaccine must be stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius.
According to the deal, Beximco will collect and transport Covishield vaccines to storage facilities under the health directorate's Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) cold-chain network.
Officials said the EPI has the storage capacity.
"They will supply the vaccines in phases -- 50 lakh doses each month. We have enough capacity to store them. We will, however, place proposals before our high-ups to increase the capacity if the regular vaccination programme does not get hampered," Shamsul Haque Mridha, director of the EPI programme, told The Daily Star after the signing ceremony.
The health ministry has received Tk 100 crore against its proposal for Tk 318 crore for cold chain management of the Covid-19 vaccines, according to media reports.
SURPASSING 4.5 LAKH-MARK
Meanwhile, with 2,230 people testing positive for Covid-19 in the past 24 hours till 8:00am yesterday, the total number of confirmed cases in the country rose to 4,51,990.
In the same period, 32 people died from the virus, according to a press release issued by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
The total number of deaths has now reached 6,448, with the death rate at 1.43 percent.
Against 15,018 tests in 117 labs, the positivity rate was 14.85 percent.
The overall positivity rate rose to 16.86 percent.
In the meantime, at least 2,266 Covid-19 patients have recovered.
With this, the total number of recoveries reached 3,66,877 and the recovery rate is 81.17 percent.
Among the 32 dead, 25 were men and seven women. One was aged between 31 and 40, seven between 41 and 50, five between 51 and 60 and 19 were above 60, added the release.