The nationwide vaccination campaign in Bangladesh is set to suffer a major setback as Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla yesterday said "there is no clarity" on vaccine exports at least before June-July.
"There is no clarity on exports and we also right now feel that we should not look at exports for two months during these cases. Maybe in June-July, we could start looking at small exports starting again. Right now, we are going to prioritise the needs of the nation [India] first," Adar Poonawalla told NDTV in an exclusive interview published yesterday.
The development comes when 75,77,889 jabs of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine -- made in India as Covishield -- out of 1.02 crore shots in stock were administered in Bangladesh as of yesterday.
Last week, health officials said with the remaining stock of jabs, they will be able to continue the vaccination campaign for the next 15 days.
Bangladesh on December 13 last year signed an agreement to purchase three crore doses of Covishield from Serum through its local agent Beximco Pharmaceuticals.
As per the deal, the government was supposed to get 50 lakh doses a month. But till yesterday, it only received 70 lakh doses in two instalments.
In addition to that, the Indian government sent 32 lakh doses as a gift.
Amid a steep rise in Covid cases in India and reports of shortage, the Indian government reportedly paused vaccine exports last month to meet domestic demand.
Poonawalla said this situation will continue till at least July, according to NDTV.
With Serum failing to comply with the agreement to supply three crore jabs of Covishield in six instalments, the Bangladesh government started exploring alternative sources for shots in a desperate attempt to continue the ongoing inoculation drive against novel coronavirus.
The health ministry has made progress in receiving five lakh doses of Sinopharm vaccine from China, an official of the ministry told The Daily Star, seeking anonymity.
The government is now moving to give "emergency use authorisation" to this Chinese vaccine, an official of the Directorate General of Drug Administration told this newspaper, seeking anonymity.
Besides, the Russian government has offered Bangladesh to either buy around 2.5 crore doses of Sputnik V vaccine or produce it locally with its assistance, reports BSS, quoting Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday.