Bangladesh is set to receive the second batch of 600,000 doses of the Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine as a gift from China next week.
The government will dispatch two aircraft to bring home the vaccines on Jun 13, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said on Thursday, reports bdnews24.com.
The vaccine, one of two main Chinese coronavirus vaccines that have been given to hundreds of millions of people in China and elsewhere, is the first developed by a non-Western country to win the backing of the World Health Organization.
Bangladesh started its mass vaccination campaign last February using COVISHIELD, the vaccine developed by the UK's University of Oxford and Anglo-Swedish company AstraZeneca.
Despite an agreement to buy 30 million jabs, its manufacturer Serum Institute of India had only sent 7.0 million doses in two shipments before India froze export of the vaccine to tackle its own devastating crisis.
It prompted Bangladesh to halt the first dosing of the vaccine, while many who received the first shot were not given the second one.
In a bid to mitigate the crisis, the government reached out to China and Russia for vaccines. China has already sent 500,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine as a gift.
Later, China said it would gift another 600,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine to Bangladesh. The latest coronavirus vaccine developed by Sinovac Life Sciences Company has been approved for emergency use in Bangladesh as the second vaccine from China.
Aside from purchasing 15 million doses of the vaccine, the government is also discussing the possibility of producing the Chinese vaccine in Bangladesh. The South Asian nation is also in talks with Russia over the import and co-production of the Sputnik V vaccine.
Besides the Chinese government's initiatives, the Chinese Communist Party is also sending various medical equipment to the ruling Awami League, said Momen, a portion of which will be brought back alongside the vaccine shipment on Jun 13.
Briefing the media on the latest developments regarding the procurement of vaccines, the minister said, “We are trying to take steps that will allow us to produce the COVID-19 vaccine in the country."
"We hope to be able to make an announcement soon. The vaccine-makers will pick a drug company from here. They will come and check the capabilities of the companies before offering a chance to co-produce the vaccine.”
Momen expects a positive outcome 'very soon' that will put to bed all concerns over the shortage of vaccines in the country.
"Hopefully, we will then become exporters of the vaccine.”