Bangladesh is going to sign a deal with the Serum Institute of India on Thursday for availing Covidshield, a potential Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford.
The government will procure this Covid-19 vaccine via the local drug producer, Beximco Pharmaceuticals, the sole supplier of Seram's vaccine to Bangladesh.
In the initial six months of the first phase, Serum will supply three crore doses of the vaccine – 50 lakh per month – to Bangladesh at a price similar to what India will get at.
When contacted, Health Secretary Md Abdul Mannan told The Business Standard that Serum will manufacture the Oxford-developed vaccine. Bangladesh will ink an agreement with Serum and import vaccine supplies through Beximco.
Seeking anonymity, an official at Beximco Group said the government will negotiate with Serum on the vaccine price. Advance payment is required for getting the three crore vaccine doses. Beximco will pay that amount and take a bank guarantee against it.
Besides, Beximco will import the vaccine and hand it over to the government while maintaining a cold chain. The government will also give Beximco a commission for the vaccine import purpose.
Earlier, the Health Service Division sent a proposal to the Prime Minister's Office for approval to import Serum's vaccine through Beximco.
The proposal said the Serum Institute of India, tasked with producing this potential vaccine in India, has agreed to sell the vaccine to Beximco at $4 per dose, according to the health ministry proposal.
Serum offered per dose of its potential vaccine at $5 while the Indian government agreed to pay $4 for it. Bangladesh thinks both Serum and Indian government will eventually agree to keep the per-dose price at $4.
Serum is ready to provide the vaccine doses at the same price, according to health ministry officials.
In the second phase, Bangladesh will avail supplies of vaccine doses at a price similar to what India will get at. The vaccine price might rise or drop during the time.
In the first phase when the vaccine hits the market, frontline health workers and elderly people aged 65 or above will be the priority recipients for the jab.
The big advantage of having the Oxford-developed vaccine is that it can be stored at 2-8°C, and Bangladesh has that storage facility.
The country does not have the capacity to preserve vaccines being developed by other companies such as the United States' (US) Moderna, Pfizer and China's Sinovac at temperatures ranging between -20°C and -70°C.