Bangladesh will get 68 million doses of vaccine for at least 20% of its population from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, under the global arrangement called Covax facility by 2021.
Every person will get two doses of the vaccine, said Dr Shamsul Haque, director of the Expanded Programme for Immunisation (EPI) of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) on Wednesday.
Bangladesh will have to pay out the Gavi Covax vaccine price in a co-financing manner while the cost for each shot of the vaccine from the Gavi arrangement has been estimated at $1.60 to $2, he told journalists at a programme.
Dr Shamsul Haque said before getting the vaccines, the Bangladesh health directorate will submit the National Vaccine Deployment Plan on Covid-19 vaccination as per conditions set by Gavi.
"Those who submit the plan first will receive the vaccine supply first. Hopefully, we will submit it on the first day [7 December] when Gavi will start accepting the guideline," he added.
The review of the application and the decision on vaccine allocation by Gavi/ Covax will be made between December 2020 and March 2021. The first vaccine shipment will arrive between February and June 2021.
Bangladesh sent an official Expression of Interest to Gavi on 9 July and the Vaccine Alliance accepted it on 14 July.
On 18 September, Gavi sent a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announcing Bangladesh's eligibility for getting the vaccine.
"Covax will first give 3% vaccine, then 8%, then 11-20%. Maybe after this 20% vaccine, more can be bought through Gavi when it is needed. We have plans to buy 21-40% and 41-60% vaccines through Gavi. In this way, we will be able to vaccinate 130 million people," Dr Shamsul Haque said.
In addition to the Gavi vaccine, Bangladesh is buying vaccines directly through the Serum Institute of India. Some 30 million doses have been secured. The vaccine will reach 1.5 crore people or 9% of the population, he added.
The vaccine that will be available, first of all must be pre-qualified either by the World Health Organisation or by the European Commission.
Besides, the manufacturer must also have a certificate. To bring this vaccine to Bangladesh, one has to have a certificate from the Directorate General of Drug Administration, added Dr Shamsul Haque.
Although the trial of the vaccine in the case of the Chinese company, Sinovac, has been postponed, we are still in touch with them. We are in contact with Russian Sputnik-V vaccine, Sanofi, Pfizer so that if there is ever an emergency in the future we can get a vaccine. However, there are problems with the cold chain of some vaccines.
Meanwhile, two Bangladeshi institutes have stated their desire to host the 3rd phase clinical trial of Sanofi and GSK's protein-based vaccine, he added.
Professor Meerjady Sabrina Flora, additional director general of the DGHS, said if more vaccines are needed after receiving the prescribed 20% from Gavi, "we will procure them at more than $2. We plan to purchase 40% of the vaccine from Gavi."
"A vaccine company from India, Sanofi and another one are contacting the country for a trial. Sanofi's trial has made significant progress. We are working on how to get the vaccine outside the trial," she added.
Vaccine deployment estimated budget
After the purchase of Gavi's vaccine, its deployment has to go through seven steps – planning and coordination; regulatory, vaccine safety and AEFI detection and response; prioritisation, targeting and Covid-19 surveillance; service delivery, training and supervision; monitoring and evaluation; vaccine, cold chain and logistics; and advocacy, demand generation and communication
It will cost around $9.76 million for the deployment of the Gavi vaccine while the cost for that of Beximco's vaccines will be more than $3 billion.
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
Based in Geneva, Switzerland, Gavi is the Vaccine Alliance, which brings together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to vaccines.
Gavi was created in 2000 to improve access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world's poorest countries. Gavi has observer status at the World Health Assembly.
Gavi is co-leading Covax, the vaccines pillar of the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. This involves coordinating the Covax Facility, a global risk-sharing mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of eventual Covid-19 vaccines.
Antigen tests to begin next month
Professor Meerjady Sabrina Flora said the health directorate will begin antigen-based rapid tests next month in 10 districts of the country where there are no RT-PCR lab facilities with higher infection rates.
Some kits required for the test have already reached the country and some others are on the way, she said, adding that the authorities will start imparting training to health workers on antigen tests from next week.