Eastern Times, Special Correspondent, Dhaka, 5 November: Bangladesh has signed a deal with the Serum Institute of India today for availing Covidshield, a potential Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford.
Bangladesh Health Minister Zahid Maleque was present when the MoU was signed on Thursday afternoon at the Health Ministry’s conference room.
“The doses will be given to one and half crore coronavirus infected people in the country,” the minister said during a media briefing.
In the initial six months of the first phase, Serum will supply three crore doses of the vaccine – 50 lakh per month – to Bangladesh at a price similar to what India will get at.
The government will procure this Covid-19 vaccine via the local drug producer, Beximco Pharmaceuticals, the sole supplier of Seram’s vaccine to Bangladesh.
Earlier, the Health Service Division sent a proposal to the Prime Minister’s Office for approval to import Serum’s vaccine through Beximco.
The proposal said the Serum Institute of India, tasked with producing this potential vaccine in India, has agreed to sell the vaccine to Beximco at $4 per dose, according to the health ministry proposal.
Serum offered per dose of its potential vaccine at $5 while the Indian government agreed to pay $4 for it. Bangladesh thinks both Serum and Indian government will eventually agree to keep the per-dose price at $4.
Serum is ready to provide the vaccine doses at the same price, according to health ministry officials.
In the second phase, Bangladesh will avail supplies of vaccine doses at a price similar to what India will get at. The vaccine price might rise or drop during the time.
In the first phase when the vaccine hits the market, frontline health workers and elderly people aged 65 or above will be the priority recipients for the jab.
The big advantage of having the Oxford-developed vaccine is that it can be stored at 2-8°C, and Bangladesh has that storage facility.
The country does not have the capacity to preserve vaccines being developed by other companies such as the United States’ (US) Moderna, Pfizer and China’s Sinovac at temperatures ranging between -20°C and -70°C.