Govt moves to set up vaccine institute
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the government was going to sign an agreement with South Korea to set up an international standard vaccine institute in order to produce vaccines, including those against Covid-19, in the country.
While replying to a question from Awami League MP Ahasanul Islam Titu, she told parliament that "ratification, accession and approval" of the agreement by the Cabinet were under process.
Hasina said the government has taken steps to produce Covid vaccines in the country alongside collecting jabs from abroad with a view to check the spread of the virus.
She said talks at the government-to-government level continued with the countries, who have developed Covid vaccines, for transfer of technology to Bangladesh to this end.
Hasina said the capacity of Incepta Pharmaceuticals, Popular Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Pharmaceuticals for production of Covid vaccines has already been assessed.
She said Globe Biotech Ltd is carrying out research on Covid vaccines. "The vaccine is now at the trial stage."
She said Bangladesh has so far collected 1.08 crore shots of Covid vaccines from abroad.
As of June 5, a total of 58,22,177 people were given the first jabs and 42,09,510 the second doses of coronavirus vaccines, said the PM.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Zahid Maleque yesterday said Bangladesh would receive 10 lakh doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine by August from COVAX, a global vaccine distribution alliance.
"We have received a letter in this regard from the World Health Organization," the minister said at a press briefing at the Secretariat.
Regarding import of vaccines from China, Zahid said China was yet to respond to Bangladesh on this issue.
Expressing optimism that China would inform Bangladesh about it by this month, he said, "We have completed all formalities from our end."
Zahid said the government was yet to receive any update from Serum Institute of India on the supply of vaccine. He, however, said talks were going on.
The minister said China expressed unhappiness over disclosing the vaccine price and that's why there was a delay in receiving the vaccine.
'RUSSIA TO SUPPLY VACCINE'
Russia has assured Bangladesh of supplying Covid-19 shots.
Speaking to The Daily Star yesterday, the health minister said Russia told Bangladesh that the quantity of vaccine doses and the supply date would be finalised in the shortest possible time. "It's positive that the Russian authorities have agreed to give us the vaccines."
Bangladesh asked Russia to supply Sputnik V vaccines as pairs of two doses, Zahid said.
The two doses of Sputnik V are different and not interchangeable.
'VACCINE COOPERATION TO CONTINUE'
China would continue its "vaccine cooperation" with Bangladesh, Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming said yesterday.
"A friend in need is a friend indeed. Although there is a huge demand for the vaccine in China and in the international market, the Chinese government is trying its best to support the Bangladesh government and its people," he said.