Local drug manufacturer Incepta Pharmaceuticals has pulled out of Chinese company Sinopharm's Covid-19 vaccine production plan as it says the vaccine is ineffective now.
"The vaccine we planned to produce is currently not effective anywhere in the world. We had an agreement with Sinopharm, but we are not following through it because it is not effective," Abdul Muktadir, chairman and managing director of Incepta, told The Business Standard.
He said, "When the Covid-19 pandemic broke out…Sinopharm made a vaccine. In the last three years, the virus transformed completely and now there are several variants of it including the Omicron BA5.2.
"The old virus is gone, so severe respiratory disease is no longer caused by Covid-19. The vaccine is no longer effective, so there is no question of producing it."
Bangladesh signed a tripartite agreement with the Chinese company Sinopharm and local drug manufacturer Incepta Pharmaceuticals on 16 August 2021 to facilitate co-production of the inactivated Covid-19 vaccine (Vero Cell).
According to the MoU, semi-finished raw materials for vaccine production would have been imported from China in bulk which would be bottled, labelled and finished by Incepta. The government would buy those finished products from Incepta at a fixed rate.
When the MoU was signed, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said Incepta would be able to supply about four crore doses of vaccine within three months.
However, later, Incepta and Sinopharm did not advance the plan of vaccine production in the country, said Professor Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, director general of the Directorate General of the Health Services (DGHS).
Professor Dr Alam told TBS, "People are no longer interested in vaccines because Covid-19 infections have decreased. Besides, companies care for profits. Why will they invest money if there is no market for the product?
"Now the government has taken an initiative to produce the vaccine. There has been a lot of progress including buying land and hiring consultants for this purpose. It is no longer feasible to bring vaccines from foreign companies and bottle it for marketing here. Besides, we have enough vaccines. We are currently providing the fourth dose of the vaccine."
So far, around 14.98 crore Bangladeshis have received at least one dose of a vaccine – 88.01% of the population. At least 12.89 crore have completed a vaccination regimen and 6.58 crore have received boosters and 4th doses received 438,706 people.