India to send 20 lakh vaccine shots as gift
Bangladesh will receive 20 lakh doses of Covishield as a gift from india tomorrow, said a high official with knowledge of the development.
"India will send 20 lakh shots of Covishield as a gift to the Bangladesh government on January 20," said the official of the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA), requesting not to be named.
These doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine made by Serum Institute of India are being given in addition to the three crore doses of the coveted coronavirus vaccine Bangladesh has bought from Serum at a rate of $5 per shot.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque at the Dhaka Reporters' Unity yesterday morning said, "We will get some additional vaccine doses as a gift from the Indian government. But I can't say how many doses will arrive. These may arrive before the first shipment arrives from Serum Institute."
DGDA officials held a meeting in the evening to discuss a letter the health ministry sent detailing the preparations needed before receiving the 20 lakh doses.
DGDA Director General Maj Gen Mahbubur Rahman chaired the meeting.
On November 5, the government signed a tripartite deal with the Serum Institute and its local agent Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd to procure three crore doses from Serum.
According to the contract, Beximco is purchasing the vaccine for $4 per shot. However, each shot will cost the government $5 as it would pay Beximco 80 cents in service charge and 20 cents for delivering the doses to the vaccination centres.
Covishield was developed by the University of Oxford along with British drugmaker AstraZeneca. Pune-based Serum, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, partnered with Oxford University to manufacture it in India.
MINISTER'S MEET THE PRESS
Minister Zahid at Dhaka Reporters' Unity said the government would provide treatment if a vaccine recipient shows adverse effects.
The adverse effects from the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are mild and people taking the shots should agree to this.
He stressed that the first shipment of the three crore doses would reach the country by January 26.
The government plans to inoculate 50 lakh people each month after launching the programme.
Asked about the cost, the minister said, "As per the agreement, we know we and India will get the vaccine for the same price."
Meanwhile, the government submitted necessary documents to the World Health Organization to receive eight lakh shots of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine.
"We have the storage needed for these. We are going to arrange additional storage through Unicef."
Some 42,000 health workers are being trained for the vaccination programme, he said, adding that there would be more than 300 vaccination points in the capital.
"The vaccine will be given only in hospitals and diagnostic centres... The government will bear the expense for treatment [of possible adverse impacts]."
Private companies will be allowed to import more Covid-19 vaccines and supply them in the local market, he said.
"The price for imported vaccines will be fixed following government procedures. A protocol is being prepared in this regard."
Journalists will get the vaccines as front liners. Around 25,000 journalists will be inoculated as a priority group, according to a health directorate proposal.