The government yesterday approved for emergency use Covishield, the Indian version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine.
Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd has also been authorised to deliver the vaccine shots to the country's private and public organisations.
Now, there is no barrier to importing and using the vaccine, touted the world's cheapest coronavirus shot.
Md Salauddin, deputy director of the Directorate General of Drug Administration DGDA, told The Daily Star, "With this emergency use authorisation, they [Beximco] can supply the vaccine to the government as well as to private hospitals, or any vaccination programme."
Around noon, a 14-member emergency expert committee during a meeting at the DGDA recommended the emergency approval.
"As the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved this vaccine for emergency use and the Serum [Institute of India] is producing the same vaccine, we have also given the same approval," Salauddin said.
Nazmul Hasan Papon, managing director of Beximco Pharmaceutical Ltd, told The Daily Star, "I have heard about the emergency use approval, but did not see the papers yet."
He refused to make further comments.
There was uncertainty over getting the vaccine after Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonewalla told Indian media that the Indian government had banned export of the vaccine until its local needs were met.
The issue, however, was resolved after the Indian government and the SII assured Bangladesh that the ban would not be applicable for Bangladesh.
On November 5, the health ministry signed a tri-lateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Beximco and SII to purchase three crore doses of Covishield.
Based on the MoU, the government signed Covid-19 vaccine procurement contract with the companies on December 13.
SII will supply 50 lakh shots of the vaccine every month for six months after it has been approved.
On Tuesday, the government also made an advanced payment of Tk 509.7 crore for the three crore doses.
On Monday, the DGDA provided No Objection Certificate (NOC) to Beximco for importing the vaccine.
According to DGDA officials, the NOC permitted the Beximco only to import of the vaccine while yesterday's approval allows it to supply the vaccines to public and private organisations.
The price of the vaccines will be fixed later, the officials said.
The government will also collect another 68 million doses of coronavirus vaccines under the COVAX arrangement led by the WHO, Gavi and the SEPI.