Noted virologist Professor Nazrul Islam has said that not allowing Chinese company Sinovac Biotech's vaccine trial to operate in Bangladesh was the wrong decision.
"If we had allowed the vaccine trials of Sinovac, we would have had a chance to get the vaccine, and if we had had different sources of vaccines, India would not have been able to behave like this," the noted virologist told The Business Standard on Monday after India banned the export of Covid-19 vaccines produced by the Serum Institute.
"Sinovac applied for the vaccine trials, however, the Bangladesh government denied them after scrutiny," he said.
The professor further said, "We said Sinovac wanted money for the trial, but they did not want money in the beginning."
He also said that Sinovac had already spent money on trials in other countries, because Bangladesh was taking time to allow the trials. That is why it asked for money.
"The type of two vaccines [Sinovac and Oxford] are different. But Sinovac's is also an effective vaccine. The vaccine is being used in different countries. Depending on only one source for the vaccine, the health minister has been saying for so long that the vaccine will come in January, now it is not possible to say when the vaccine will come."
"People should not ignore hygiene in the hope of a vaccine now, they should wear masks," he advised.
The future of attaining Bangladesh's share of Covid-19 vaccines has been jeopardised, after India Sunday decided not to allow the Serum Institute to export the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine for several months.
Initially, Bangladesh was in talks with two countries – India and China – in order to source the novel coronavirus vaccine for domestic use. However, now it looks like the country is in trouble since it failed to strike a deal with its Chinese counterpart as well.
Earlier in August 2020, Bangladesh approved Chinese company Sinovac Biotech's human trials in the country but later, in mid-October, the trials were cancelled as the government refused to co-fund the domestic trials of the vaccine.
China has been one of the fore runners in Covid-19 vaccine race with two promising candidates - Sinovac and Sinopharm - , of whom Sinovac's CoronaVac is likely to stand the best chances of getting approved and distributed internationally because of its trail data made available.
Countries like Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil and Chile have announced their purchase of the Sinovac vaccine.
In early December of 2020, the first batch of Sinovac vaccines (1.2 million doses ) arrived in Indonesia in preparation for a mass vaccination campaign, with another 1.8m doses due to arrive by January 2021.
Earlier in December 2020, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the country had signed a contract to buy 50 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from Chinese company Sinovac, Global Times reported.
Moreover, Sinovac is holding talks with the Philippines for a potential sale while Singapore said it had signed advance purchase agreements with several vaccine makers, including Sinovac.
Sinovac's production capacity is estimated to reach 1 billion vaccines in 2021 in its newly built 20,000 sq m production plant.
China's other Covid-19 vaccines, developed by China National Biotec Group (CNBG) under the China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), have been approved by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.