The government of Bangladesh has signed an agreement with the Serum Institute of India to purchase Covid-19 vaccines.
According to the deal, the government will import three crore vaccines in the next six months (50 lakh per month).
The agreement was signed through the government and Beximco Pharmaceuticals in the presence of Health Minister Zahid Maleque in the meeting room of the health directorate on Sunday.
Professor Dr Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, director general of the directorate general of health services, and Nazmul Hassan Papon, managing director of Beximco Pharmaceuticals, signed the agreement on behalf of the government and the pharmaceutical company respectively.
The signed agreement was sent to the Serum Institute on Sunday and the authorities of the institute will send it back by 15 December after signing it.
At the signing ceremony, the health minister said the government was collecting the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine through the Serum Institute.
The vaccine seems to be safer after trials in several countries, he said.
Zahid added that the government was in talks with other companies also.
"If all goes well, the Oxford vaccine will arrive in mid-January. Meanwhile, there will be progress in importing other vaccines."
The health minister thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for approving the purchase of the vaccines expeditiously.
Later in the day, Zahid unveiled the national guidelines on Covid-19 in the ballroom of Intercontinental Dhaka hotel.
The minister said the government spends Tk1.30 lakh for each Covid-19 patient undergoing treatment in hospital, while intensive care unit service costs about Tk4 lakh.
He said compared to other countries, Covid-19 infection in Bangladesh (0.3%) is less.
Highlighting the contribution of the health sector in combating Covid-19, Zahid said economies of the countries where Covid-19 has been tackled well, such as Thailand and Vietnam, are in a good condition.
"The condition of Bangladesh is good too. Many countries are in a lot of troubles. Many big countries in Europe have imposed lockdowns again. They could not tackle the pandemic well."
"Vaccines are also coming under our control. Many countries could not order vaccine. We hope to receive vaccines by January or February after approval from the World Health Organisation and our drug administration," he added.
On 5 November, the health ministry signed a tripartite memorandum of understanding with the Serum Institute and Beximco Pharmaceuticals to import vaccines under development by Oxford/AstraZeneca.