Bangladesh is expecting the arrival of 20 lakh doses of COVAX vaccines by the first week of March. In addition, 3 crore more doses of Covid-19 vaccine will be purchased by the government.
According to earlier communication from the vaccine coalition, jabs will reach in the last week of February or the first week of March. "We haven't got a definite date yet but are hoping that COVAX vaccines will arrive around that time," said Prof Meerjady Sabrina Flora, additional director (planning and development) of the Directorate General of Health Services on Saturday.
COVAX is an international health group that made deals with vaccine manufacturers to ensure that low and middle-income countries get equal access to coronavirus vaccines.
Bangladesh will get 68 million doses covering about 20% of the population by June under the arrangement coordinated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organisation.
The government has already purchased 3 crore shots of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute in India. Those will arrive in phases, 50 lakh every month.
At present, 90 lakh doses of AstraZeneca vaccine are in stock, with which the vaccination drive is on.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a press briefing said she had already given an order to purchase 3 crore more doses as the government wanted to continue the inoculation programme that began early February.
"No one will be left out of the vaccination programme. Everyone who meets the age criterion must be vaccinated."
Teachers and employees of schools, colleges and universities will be vaccinated as well, as "we want to reopen the educational institutions soon," Hasina said.
The PM also said the country would be able to manufacture vaccines. "I have asked pharmaceutical companies that have the capacity to roll out vaccine production to get ready."
Hasina said she would take the jab only after the vaccination of a targeted number of people in the country.
So far, nearly 3 million people have been given the first shot of the Oxford vaccine since 7 February. On the 17th day yesterday [Saturday], Bangladesh vaccinated 1,33,833 people.
Flora said Beximco was delivering vaccine doses imported from India to districts.
"But we will have to transport COVAX vaccines from the airport to districts by our [government] own arrangement. The time for the vaccine rollout has not been decided yet," she said.
Meanwhile, COVAX has already begun supplying vaccines.
It delivered the first lot of Covid-19 shots on 24 February, as the race to get doses to the world's poorest people to tame the pandemic accelerated.
A flight carrying 600,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India landed in Ghana's capital Accra, according to a statement issued by the WHO and the Unicef.
Flora said COVAX started with the countries that had not received any vaccine yet, as per its policy.
Covid-19 claims 5 more lives
Meanwhile, Bangladesh recorded five more deaths from the novel coronavirus and 407 new cases in 24 hours until 8:00am on Saturday.
The country's death toll from Covid-19 now stands at 8,400, while the number of positive cases has reached 5,45,831, according to a press statement issued by the health directorate.
The latest day's infection rate was 3.30% and death rate 1.54%.
As many as 12,348 samples were tested in 214 labs across the country in the latest daily cycle.