After introducing 3 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccine from India during the first phase in January-February, another 6 crore doses of vaccine will be available under COVAX by June 2021, Health Minister Zahid Maleque yesterday told the cabinet.
During the virtual cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday, the health minister outlined the progress of Covid vaccination.
"The health minister said he hopes to get [the first lot of 3 crore doses from India] by the end of January or early February. Therefore, everyone down to the grassroots level is being trained." Cabinet Secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam told the press at the Secretariat.
"Training has started on how to dispose the items that will be used for the vaccination. They also discussed whether the vaccination could involve the private sector."
The cabinet secretary said that the extensive activities of the country's Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) are being considered for the Covid-19 inoculation.
"They want to use government healthcare facilities and involve the private sector. He [health minister] said another 6 crore vaccines will arrive in Bangladesh through COVAX by May-June," said the cabinet secretary.
Replying to a query, the cabinet secretary said, they are only thinking about the Oxford vaccine for now, but the government will not say no to any vaccine, which will attain WTO approval. "Our technical committee will approve the vaccine," he added.
Anwarul said the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina again laid emphasis on wearing facemasks. "She [Prime Minister] directed us to strictly implement 'no mask, no service' policy in all offices," he added.
In addition, the premier also directed the relevant authorities to go ahead with further stern action to ensure social distancing to stop the spread of Coronavirus in the country, he continued.
Two doses of the Covid-19 shot need to be taken. While rich countries are preparing to immunize all their citizens as soon as possible, the vaccine race is getting more and more challenging for the poorer nations.
Last April, the World Health Organization (WHO), Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations formed a platform titled Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility, or COVAX, to help poor countries get vaccinated.
The alliance aims to deliver 130 crore doses of vaccine to 92 low and middle-income countries next year. As a part of this initiative, they will provide vaccines to 20% of the total population of Bangladesh.
In the meantime, the government has already signed an agreement to purchase 3 crore doses of the Oxford vaccine produced at the Serum Institute. On 18 November, the Finance Division also allocated Tk735.77 crore to the Health Services Division to buy the shots.