The world is now waiting for a shot against Covid-19. Russia has already registered the first vaccine for use.
Several companies are in phase-3 trials to develop a vaccine. Different countries have already made investments to get the vaccine from these companies while many of them have begun trials in their own countries.
Neighbouring India has already partnered with AstraZeneca to manufacture the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine and is also conducting clinical trials of another one in the country.
On the other hand, Bangladesh is relying only on the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI) to get the vaccine.
The clinical trials of Chinese company Sinovac's vaccine – scheduled for the first week of August – in Bangladesh, now remains stalled for unknown reasons.
So, where does Bangladesh stand in this race?
Experts say even if the vaccine is discovered, there are doubts about how many Bangladesh will get and when.
The world is now desperate to get a vaccine to fight the pandemic. Wealthy nations have invested heavily in vaccines, they say.
"When a vaccine hits the market in 2021, Bangladesh will get a minimal number of doses. Europe and the United States have paid in advance for the vaccine, and they will get it first. We are among the 92 countries who will get the vaccine for free," said Professor Sayedur Rahman, chairman of Department of Pharmacology at Bangbandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University.
"However, the vaccine will not reach the general public in Bangladesh. If you do not pay, you will not get it for all. The vaccine will be manufactured gradually. In Bangladesh, even if a single dose is given to a person, 13 to 14 crore doses will be needed," he told The Business Standard.
About 200 companies and research institutes around the world are now working on developing the novel coronavirus vaccine.
Oxford University is conducting clinical trials on human bodies in the United Kingdom, Sinovac in China, Moderna in the United States and the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Australia. A total of six vaccines are in the third phase of clinical trials.
Trial in Bangladesh could help negotiation
Experts say a vaccine trial in the country does not guarantee the availability of the vaccine for free but it will give an opportunity for a negotiation to avail it at a lower price. Technology also can be exchanged through the trial.
Some vaccines will be free while some others will be of low cost, they added.
Prof Sayedur Rahman, who is also the chairman at the Bangladesh Pharmacological Society, said, "We have two vaccine manufacturing plants, which can be used for vaccine production through negotiation. Infection rates in other countries are not yet as high as in Bangladesh, so others will come to Bangladesh for research."
Dr Shamsul Hoque, director at the health directorate's Maternal Nutrition and Child Healthcare Program, told the Business Standard, "Bangladesh is in the process of getting a vaccine. On July 9, we sent our expression of interest and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations has accepted it. There will be regional meetings with GAVI this month and in September to decide on whether the vaccine will be available for free or with charge."
GAVI will buy two billion doses of the vaccine in the first phase if the vaccine is developed. It will be given to 20-23 percent people of each country in the first phase. As such, four crore people in Bangladesh will get the vaccine first, said Dr Shamsul Hoque.
He also said the health minister will soon hold a meeting with pharmaceutical companies in the country which can manufacture vaccines.
On Monday, at a virtual meeting, Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque said the government will be racing to get the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it hits the market after qualifying in trials.