Fifty lakh doses of the Oxford vaccines the government has purchased through Beximco Pharmaceuticals will arrive home on Monday morning.
Beximco Pharma will store the vaccines in its warehouse at Tongi and hand them over to the government within 27 January, Rizvi Ul Kabir, Beximco's marketing director, told The Business Standard Sunday evening.
Rizvi said the vaccines will arrive on a flight at 11:30am on Monday and will be taken to the company's Tongi warehouse in the freezer van from the airport.
"The vaccines will be handed over to the government either on 26 January night or in the morning of 27," said the Beximco official.
He added that there is a legal binding – each batch of vaccine has to be submitted to the National Drug Testing Lab for testing, which will take 24-48 hours.
"We will apply on Monday for this and get the report probably in the afternoon or in the evening of 26. After that the vaccines will be supplied to the government-prescribed cold storage," said Rizvi.
Meanwhile, Beximco Pharma Managing Director Nazmul Hassan Papon said Bangladesh would pay the same price at which India is buying the Serum Institute's vaccines.
Even, Bangladesh will pay a lower price in case India has to buy the vaccine at a higher price, Papon said at a press briefing at his Gulshan residence on Sunday night.
On 5 November 2020, the health ministry signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding with the Serum Institute in India and Beximco to import the vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca.
About three crore doses have been secured, which Serum would deliver over a period of six months – 50 lakh a month. The doses will be given to 1.5 crore people – 9% of the population, according to sources.
Earlier at a briefing at the Secretariat on Sunday, Health Minister Zahid Malek also confirmed the arrival of the vaccine.
He said India has already given 20 lakh vaccine doses as a gift and another 50 lakh will arrive on Monday as per the agreement.
The government has already made all preparations to keep and distribute these vaccines across the country.
The health minister said all drugs or vaccines have some minor side effects. A medical team has been kept ready to deal with the vaccine side effects, if any.
Telemedicine services have also been set up to monitor the post-vaccine situation, and so, there is no reason not to get vaccinated against the life-threatening coronavirus for fear of slight side effects, said Zahid Malek.
He maintained that the government will not force anyone to get the vaccine. Everyone can get the jab as per their desire.
Asked whether the vaccine will be given to politicians or high-ranking officials in the first phase, the health minister said the vaccines must be administered in accordance with the guidelines of the World Health Organization.
The WHO recommended giving vaccines to the health workers first, and that is why politicians won't be among the top priorities though they are willing to get the shot, he said, adding that the politicians, the elderly and the other interested groups will be provided with the vaccines in phases.
Govt to get vaccine registration app 'Surakkha' on Monday
The ICT Department will hand over the vaccine registration app "Surakkha" today to the health ministry at a function at the Prime Minister's Office, said Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, director general of Health Directorate.
The app is due to be handed over on Monday, 25 January and opened for registration the next day, he said, adding that the registration process will continue till the end of the immunisation programme.
The coronavirus vaccination programme kicks off on 27 January when 25 individuals will be selected from health workers, journalists and police and vaccinated on a trial basis.
Government allows Covid-19 antibody testing
The government on Sunday permitted antibody testing in the country's designated laboratories and hospitals.
Health Minister Zahid Malek on Sunday said at the secretariat that there had been a long-standing demand for permission for antibody testing in the country.
In August last year, the government decided not to allow the antibody test.
An antibody test reveals if a person has already been exposed to an infection, by detecting antibodies in their blood or serum while an antigen test reveals if a person is currently infected with a pathogen. Once the infection is gone, the antigen disappears.
India, Bangladesh to get vaccine at same price: Papon
According to the agreement, India and Bangladesh will get the vaccine at the same price. If India gets it at a lower price, that will also apply to Bangladesh, said Papon.
He said the price of a dose would be around $3 for the Indian government, and Bangladesh would also pay the same price.
"But if India buys a dose at more than $4, Bangladesh will not do so. Bangladesh will buy at $3-4," said Papon.
He noted that such a "historic" agreement had never been signed before.
Papon said the government had asked Beximco to deliver the vaccine to 64 districts and the company would hand the jabs over to the civil surgeons in each district.
He said they would deliver the vaccine wherever the government would ask them to.
The government inked the deal with Serum Institute of India and Beximco is just the distributor, said Papon.
Explaining further, he said Beximco would receive $1 in commission from the government for each dose, and the company would have to bear the responsibility if any dose was wasted while bringing the vaccine.
But Beximco would not be responsible for any side effect experienced by anyone, and the government would arrange treatment for that person, he said.
Papon said he was willing to get the first jab.
"But I was told to wait for 10 more days because my body reacts to some medicines. Those who are allergic to certain medicines will be vaccinated later," he said.
"Perhaps I will get the jab four or five days later."