Bangladesh has cleared the decks for the use of Oxford University-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for emergency use.
The government’s decision will pave the way for importing the vaccine from Serum Institute of India.
Bangladesh’s drug administration gave NOC to Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd, the local partner of Serum institute, to import the shots branded Covishield.
The government provided half the payment in advance for the three crore doses of the vaccine.
The contract reached between two governments will clear way for arrival of the first shipment in Bangladesh in a month after the approval and the payment.
Health Secretary Abdul Mannan said each dose of the vaccine would cost $5 for the government.
He said the vaccine can be administered for emergency use.
The managing director of Beximco Nazmul Hassan Papon, however, said he is yet to formally receive the NOC.
“The deal was done on the basis of discussions at the highest level, between Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Premier Narendra Modi. So, no ban will be applicable for us. There is no reason for us to worry,” said
Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen said he is in touch with Indian government and the vaccine will arrive on time.
The Serum Institute said it will focus on meeting India’s own immediate demand for two months before exporting it to other countries.
Bangladesh is likely to get 50 lakh doses of Covishield every month for the first six months according to the agreement.
During a virtual summit between Hasina and Modi on December 17, the latter promised to promptly and effectively deliver to Bangladesh the Covid-19 vaccine.
Bangladesh is a significant pillar in India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy.
India now has four million vaccine doses and an additional 10 million will be produced by this month. The country can give Bangladesh 50 lakh doses per month.