The Covid-19 Vaccine Management Taskforce has prepared a draft list of ten groups and professions, and if it is approved, a selected number of people will get the first shots from the 3 crore Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses being procured by Bangladesh.
For finalisation, the list will be handed over to Health Minister Zahid Maleque on Sunday, member of the taskforce Prof Dr Shah Munir Hossain told The Business Standard.
However, the list does not include names of the recipients. The government will form monitoring committees at the national, district and upazila levels to create the list of recipients by name, and carry out the vaccination programme.
It will also create a database of people who received the Covid-19 vaccine, according to sources from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). Each recipient will have to get two shots of the vaccine, and the second dose will have to be taken 28 days after the first one.
Responding to a query, Member Secretary of the taskforce Dr Shamsul Haque said, "We have completed preparations regarding how and where the shots will be stored. The first 50 lakh vaccine doses delivered by the Serum Institute will be given to frontliners such as health workers, police and administration officials."
Dr Haque, who also serves as the director of Expanded Programme for Immunisation (EPI) under the DGHS, added that in the initial phase, 4.5 lakh government sector health workers and seven lakh private sector health workers will get the vaccine.
Another 1.5 lakh health management and support workers, including employees of various government and private hospitals and the DGHS, will get the doses in the initial phase. Besides, 5.5 lakh Bangladesh Police personnel will get the shots, with a priority on traffic police officials.
The vaccine will be distributed to 2.10 lakh Freedom Fighters as well.
Among other groups and professions, the vaccine will be provided to: three lakh frontliners of the Bangladesh Army, 50,000 journalists and 5,000 civil surgeons, deputy commissioners, and ministry officials.
Moreover, 70,000 public representatives including members of parliament as well as chairpersons and members of upazila and union parishads. The largest group to get the Covid-19 vaccine is the people aged sixty and above, which includes residents of old homes and religious leaders.
Depending on the availability of the vaccine shots, it will also gradually be distributed on a priority basis to those who are immuno-compromised, suffering from chronic diseases, teaching professionals, and public transportation workers.
Dr Haque further said, "The EPI's 26,000 health assistants and other health workers will carry out the vaccination programme. The doses will be stored in EPI's cold chain management plants throughout the 64 districts."
Progress so far
On 5 November, Bangladesh's health ministry signed a tripartite memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Serum Institute of India and Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd to import the vaccine under development by Oxford/AstraZeneca.
Some three crore doses have been secured, and the vaccine will reach 1.5 crore people or 9% of the population. In the initial six months of the first phase, Serum will supply 50 lakh per month.
Bangladesh will import the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine after it gets approval from India, the World Health Organisation and the DGDA. The doses must be stored in two-eight degree centigrade temperature.
Serum Institute of India's CEO Adar Poonawalla on Saturday told the media that he is hopeful of receiving Oxford vaccine approval for market authorisation from the Indian government by the month's-end.
Besides, DGHS sources said, along with Oxford and Gavi, the government has also begun primary negotiations with Russia and China for their Sputnik and Sinopharm vaccines respectively.
Scientists from the United Kingdom (UK) and Russia are planning to test whether combining shots of the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Sputnik V novel coronavirus vaccines could result in better protection than two doses of the same one.
Trials will start by the end of the year, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which funded the development of the Sputnik V vaccine by Russia's Gamaleya Institute, said on Friday.
In the UK, Margaret Keenan – a 90-year-old British grandmother – became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine outside of a trial on 9 December.
On Saturday, the US Food and Drug Administration authorised the first Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use in the United States. Millions of doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech novel coronavirus vaccine, which has been found to be 95% effective, will be soon shipped around the country so vaccinations can begin within days, reports the BBC.
However, Bangladesh is not interested in procuring the Pfizer vaccine, as the country does not have a cold chain capable of maintaining negative 60-70 degree centigrade temperature, DGHS sources said .