The future of attaining Covid-vaccine share of Bangladesh has been jeopardized, after India on Sunday decided not to allow Serum Institute to export the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine for several months.
The country was in talks with two countries - India and China - in order to source the coronavirus vaccine for domestic use, however, it looks the country is now in hot water since it failed to strike a deal with its chinese counterpart as well.
Earlier in August 2020, Bangladesh approved chinese company Sinovac Biotech' human trial in the country but later in mid-October it got cancelled as the government denied to co-fund the domestic trials of the vaccine.
Sinovac asked the Bangladesh government to co-fund the domestic trials, which sources said would cost roughly $7 million.
Sinovac informed the health ministry in a letter, seen by Reuters, that a delay in approvals in Bangladesh had resulted in funding getting reallocated to trials in other countries.
Noted virologist Professor Nazrul Islam has said that not allowing Chinese company Sinovac Biotech's vaccine trial in Bangladesh was a wrong decision.
"If we had allowed the vaccine trial of Sinovac, we would have had a chance to get the vaccine and if we had different sources of vaccines, India could not behave like this," the noted virologist told this to The Business Standard on Monday after India banned export of Covid vaccine produced by Serum Institute.
He further said, "China asked for co-funding as they had already invested money on trials in other countries, as a result of the delay made by Bangladesh to approve CoronaVac trails in the country."
China has been one of the fore runners in Covid-19 vaccine race with two promising candidates - Sinovac and Sinopharm - , of whom Sinovac's CoronaVac is likely to stand the best chances of getting approved and distributed internationally because of its trail data made available.
Countries like Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil and Chile have announced their purchase of the Sinovac vaccine.
In early December of 2020, the first batch of Sinovac vaccines (1.2 million doses ) arrived in Indonesia in preparation for a mass vaccination campaign, with another 1.8m doses due to arrive by January 2021.
Earlier in December 2020, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the country had signed a contract to buy 50 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from Chinese company Sinovac, Global Times reported.
Moreover, Sinovac is holding talks with the Philippines for a potential sale while Singapore said it had signed advance purchase agreements with several vaccine makers, including Sinovac.
In Europe, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Facebook that the country would seek emergency domestic approval of a Chinese Covid-19 vaccine rather than waiting for a review by the EU's European Medicines Agency. He said the safety of the vaccine is not a "political or ideological question, but a professional one."
CoronaVac is one of three experimental Covid-19 vaccines China has been using to inoculate around one million people under an emergency-use programme.
Despite not knowing the results of phase 3 trials, a condition typically required to receive regulatory approval, CoronaVac has been approved for emergency use in China to vaccinate high-risk groups since July 2020.
This emergency approval is likely to have followed positive data from the vaccine's phase 1 and 2 trials.
Sinovac has reached its' phase 3 trial after it published the results of its phase 2 trial in mid- November of 2020 suggesting that CoronaVac induced immune responses among volunteers and may offer Covid-19 protection.
China National Biotec Group Company Limited (CNBG), formerly the Central Epidemic Prevention Department of Beiyang Government, announced that Sinovac's production capacity is estimated to reach 1 billion vaccines in 2021 in its newly built 20,000 sq m production plant.
Sinovac, in a separate statement, said that it would be able to manufacture 300 million vaccine doses annually and aims to complete construction of a second production facility by the end of 2020 to increase annual Covid-19 vaccine production capacity to 600 million doses, Al Jazeera reported.
China's other Covid-19 vaccines, developed by China National Biotec Group (CNBG) under the China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), have been approved by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.