Bangladesh on Monday received the first consignment of the 5 million doses of Covishield vaccines from India under a procurement agreement, four days after New Delhi gifted 2 million doses of the vaccine to Dhaka.
A special Air India flight carrying the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine co-manufactured by Serum Institute of India reached the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport earlier in the day to be initially stored at a warehouse of private Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd ahead of their planned countrywide distribution.
Bangladesh has so far purchased 30 million doses from the Serum Institute of India through private Beximco pharmaceuticals under a tripartite agreement.
The vaccines are being transported to Beximco warehouses in Tongi on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka in special freezer vans, Beximco Pharma’s managing director Nazmul Hassan told reporters after receiving the consignment at the airport.
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Health officials said the government experts would check the vaccine samples to see if any temperature fluctuation affected their efficacy and the expiry dates.
“Beximco Pharma will send the vaccines to civil surgeons at all of the 64 (administrative) districts after obtaining certificates from the Drug Administration,” a health ministry statement said.
Bangladesh is expected to get 50 lakh of vaccines every month from India in the coming months, Health minister Zahid Maleque said earlier.
Bangladesh will start the nationwide COVID-19 vaccine distribution in early February.
Officials say they have formed 7,344 distribution teams comprising six health workers while about 42,000 health workers are being trained. Bangladesh has reported more than 532,000 coronavirus cases so far with over 8,000 deaths.
India is one of the world’s biggest drugmakers and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring the coronavirus vaccines.
In the last few days, India has sent consignments of domestically produced coronavirus vaccines under grant assistance to Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Mauritius and Seychelles.
It is also undertaking commercial supplies of the doses to a number of countries, including Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Brazil and Morocco.