The government has decided to continue administering the first doses of Covid-19 vaccine as well as the second doses as it hopes that more vaccines from India will arrive this week.
Although the amount of vaccine that India will give to Bangladesh now is not final, Salman F Rahman, the prime minister's private industry and investment adviser, has confirmed that the vaccines will be available to continue the ongoing vaccination programme.
"We will get another consignment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India this week," he told The Business Standard on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the country recorded the highest 7,087 single-day infections and 53 more fatalities in the past 24 hours ending at 8am Sunday.
Bangladesh will start administering the second doses of Covid-19 vaccine from 8 April. The government will continue giving the first jabs along with providing the second doses, Professor Meerjady Sabrina Flora, additional director general (planning and development) of the Director General of Health Services (DGHS), told The Business Standard.
She said, "We do not know the exact date when the vaccine will come to the country. We are trying our best. We hope to get the vaccine. We will continue providing the two doses of vaccine until further notice."
Bangladesh is administering the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, produced at the Serum Institute of India, since 7 February. About 55 lakh people have received the first dose so far.
As per a deal with India's Serum Institute and Beximco, the Bangladesh government was supposed to get 50 lakh doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine every month. Bangladesh received 70 lakh doses in two shipments so far under the deal.
The first consignment of 50 lakh doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Dhaka from India on 25 January this year.
Later, the second batch of 20 lakh doses of the vaccine from Serum arrived here on 22 February.
Besides, a consignment of 20 lakh doses of the vaccine, gifted by India, reached Dhaka on 21 January, and another consignment of 12 lakh doses, also gifted by India, arrived Dhaka On 26 March.
Previously, various sources said there may be a crisis of second dose vaccine as the third shipment of the vaccine did not arrive in March as per the agreement. So the first dose of vaccines will be stopped from 5 April. However, the DGHS said there is no fear of shortage now.
Meanwhile, the government is also looking for other sources of vaccine. Earlier, China's Sinopharm and Russia's Sputnik companies had offered to supply vaccines to Bangladesh. Health Minister Zahid Malik told the media that the government is now approaching China and Russia as alternative sources of Oxford-AstraZeneca.
On 15 March, Mohammad Masudur Rahman Mollah, deputy secretary of the Health Services Division, directed the officials concerned to take necessary steps to request the Chinese embassy to accept the vaccine produced by the China Sinopharm International Corporation.
Covid cases reach a record high to 7,087
On Sunday, the day before starting the nationwide lockdown, Bangladesh saw an alarming growth in the number of Covid-19 cases as 7,087 people were diagnosed with the disease in the last 24 hours, which is the highest in a single day to date.
The new record came with an infection rate of 23.07%. The number of total cases now stands at 637,364 in the country with an overall infection rate of 13.32%, according to a press release of the DGHS.
Besides, the country reported 53 more deaths from the deadly virus, taking the tally to 9,266 with 1.45% death rate.
Professor Meerjady Sabrina Flora said, "We recommended the government to take as many steps as possible to control the infection. In this regard, the government has taken several strong steps, but the bottom line is that our citizens must abide by it. If we do not comply, it will be difficult to curb the infections no matter what we do. Everyone has to follow the hygiene rules."