The government has made considerable progress in procuring Russia's Sputnik V vaccine with health officials now working on finalising a government-to-government contract.
"We have got the agreement paper on Monday from the foreign ministry. We are now examining the terms and conditions. We have some observations about some conditions and we will reply with these tomorrow [Wednesday]," Health Minister Zahid Maleque told The Daily Star yesterday.
The minister hoped that the purchase agreement with the Russian authorities would be completed soon.
Asked about the price of the vaccine, the minister said it was not mentioned in the agreement proposal.
"Basically, this agreement proposal is on the level of terms and conditions such as when the authorities can send vaccines and what would happen if they cannot send vaccines on time."
The minister however said they were expecting to get the Sputnik V vaccine at a reasonable price.
Sputnik V has been priced at about $10 per shot in other countries, according to media reports.
"Many countries are using this vaccine. So, it won't be a problem for us to know the price of the vaccine from other countries. We hope the price will be reasonable," said the health minister.
He said after the initial agreement, the Bangladesh embassy in Russia will further negotiate other issues including the price before the final agreement.
"We are trying to sign the agreement at the soonest," the health minister said.
The government also approved in principle the local coproduction of Russia's Sputnik V involving Bangladeshi drug makers.
On April 27, the government authorised the emergency use of Sputnik V in the country.
Bangladesh's mass inoculation programme suffered serious setbacks after the Indian government restricted the export of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India.
Due to vaccine shortage, the government suspended administering the first doses from April 26.
However, the emergency use authorisation of Sputnik V means there is no bar to importing and administering that vaccine. Health officials said they can resume the first dose of vaccination once they the Russian vaccine arrives.
Maj Gen Mahbubur Rahman, director general of Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA), told The Daily Star on April 27 that Russia will give Bangladesh 40 lakh doses in May and June. He also said Sputnik V will be administered as the first dose.
Sputnik V is the second vaccine the DGDA approved after Covishield -- the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by Serum -- on January 4.
The Russian vaccine has been registered in around 60 countries and is currently in use in some of those countries.
Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Myanmar have already approved Sputnik V. India has recently approved the use of Sputnik V as the country faces shortages of jabs amid an intensifying second wave of the deadly virus.
Russia approved the Sputnik V vaccine for domestic use in August last year. The country claimed that its efficacy is around 91 percent, but the vaccine is yet to get approval from the World Health Organization.