At the current rate of use, the government’s stock of COVID-19 vaccine doses could run out within two weeks.
The current stock could be administered until the first week of May. A decision on procuring new vaccine doses must be made before then, Dr Robed Amin, spokesperson for the Directorate General of Health Services, said on Friday, reports bdnews24.com.
Bangladesh has received 10.2 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, including about 3.2 million doses as “gifts” in two phases from India. The vaccination drive began in Bangladesh on Feb 7.
According to the DGHS, 7.75 million doses have been used up as of Apr 22, which means Bangladesh is left with only 2.45 million vials.
Bangladesh signed an agreement with the Serum Institute of India to purchase 30 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca in November. According to that deal, Beximco Pharmaceuticals is responsible for procuring the doses.
The initial schedule stated that five million doses of the vaccine would be sent every month for six months. But massive demand and the vaccine supply crunch stalled shipments from India, now in the grip of a rampaging second wave of the pandemic.
India's coronavirus infections rose by 346,786 overnight, setting a new world record for the third consecutive day. India surpassed the US record of 297,430 single-day infections anywhere in the world on Thursday, making it the global epicentre of a pandemic that is waning in many other countries.
Earlier this week, Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami said his country was taking steps to help Bangladesh continue its vaccination campaign. Doraiswami made the remark on his return from India through Brahmanbaria’s Akhaura land port on Thursday after a four-day vacation.
The whole world is running short of coronavirus vaccines as demand is far outstripping supply, according to Doraiswami. “We are all working on increasing the availability and supply of vaccines,” he said.
The Indian government has deployed military planes and trains to get oxygen from the far corners of the country to Delhi, as the capital's underfunded health system buckles, Reuters reports.
Television showed an oxygen truck arriving at Delhi's Batra hospital after it issued an SOS saying it had 90 minutes of oxygen left for its 260 patients.
"Please help us get oxygen, there will be a tragedy here," Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a conference on Friday.
The crisis is also being felt in other parts of the country, with several hospitals issuing public notices that they don't have medical oxygen. Local media reported fresh cases of people dying in the cities of Jaipur and Amritsar for lack of the gas.
As India is consumed by the catastrophic outbreak of the coronavirus, the vaccine supply from the neighbouring country is uncertain. India that supplied vaccines to many countries around the world during the pandemic now looks to Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine for its own battle.