Moderna roll-out likely next week
The government is likely to start administering the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine among priority groups early next week.
The jabs will be given to professionals, law enforcers, freedom fighters and students, who already got registered for vaccination and are waiting for the first dose, said Health Minister Zahid Maleque.
"We have resumed mass inoculation with Sinopharm and Pfizer vaccines. We hope to start inoculation with the Moderna vaccine early next week," the minister told The Daily Star yesterday.
Vaccine registration is now open for people under three categories -- law enforcers on the frontline, medical students and students of residential universities. They will get either Moderna or Sinopharm vaccine, he mentioned.
"We will open registration for other priority groups after checking vaccine stocks."
As of yesterday, 72,75,977 people got registered through the government app for getting vaccines. Of them, 42,89,913 took both shots of Covid vaccine while 58,20,015 got the first jab.
Earlier on Friday and Saturday, Bangladesh received 45 lakh doses of Covid vaccines from two sources -- 25 lakh Moderna vaccine jabs provided by Covax, a global vaccine alliance, and another 20 lakh shots of Sinopharm vaccines bought from China recently.
The minister also said they will not administer all the 45 lakh shots right away. Half of the jabs will be kept for the recipients of the first dose and will be administered as second dose.
The Directorate General of Health Services is now drawing up a fresh vaccine plan for these jabs.
"Moderna vaccine doses will not be administered at all the centres across the country because of the storage issue," the minister mentioned.
The efficacy rate of Moderna vaccine is over 94 percent in trials. Like Pfizer, Moderna uses the same mRNA technology. The doses need to be stored at minus 20 degrees Celsius, but those can be kept at 2-8 degrees Celsius for up to a month.
A recipient has to take two shots of the Moderna vaccine -- 28 days apart.
On July 1, government resumed administering the Sinopharm vaccine at all district hospitals and 40 centres in the capital.
It has so far inoculated less than three percent of the population. Its vaccination campaign, which started on February 7, stumbled due to suspension of Oxford- AstraZeneca vaccine supply by the Serum Institute of India amid a surge in daily infections and deaths in that country.
Amid a fast depleting vaccine stock, Bangladesh suspended administering the first dose of the vaccine on April 26. Registration for vaccination was also suspended nine days later.
Bangladesh and Serum signed an agreement that the latter would ship three crore shots of the vaccine to Bangladesh in phases between January and June.
Serum delivered the first 50 lakh doses in January, but shipped only 20 lakh the following month. No shipment has arrived since.
Meanwhile, India gave Bangladesh 3.3 million doses of the vaccine as gift.