Bangladesh inks pact with China to buy vaccines

Bangladesh has signed a pact with China to buy the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine, said Health Minister Zahid Maleque.

The Health Minister said this during a programme at the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases here.

He added: “The recent revelation of vaccine prices has created some issues. We have to maintain non-disclosure clauses strictly according to the deal.”

Earlier, the country had received seven million Covishield doses through a contract. Besides, India gave Bangladesh 3.3 million vaccines as a gift.

On May 27, the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase approved a proposal to buy 15 million doses of the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, Lokman Hossain Mia, Secretary of the Health Service Division, said: “China is set to deliver 600,000 doses of the vaccine in a second consignment given to Bangladesh as a gift on Saturday.”

Maleque did not disclose the date of the deal, the price or quantity of doses.

During a briefing post meeting, a Cabinet Division official said the authorities would purchase the vaccine at $10 per dose.

The price disclosure created some confusion, as Beijing had said that Bangladesh would have to pay $15 per dose to buy the vaccine.

According to an Inter Services Public Relations Directorate (ISPR) statement, two Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) aircraft left Bangladesh for China to bring back the doses on Friday night.

Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport Executive Director Group Captain AHM Touhid-ul Ahsan said the two C-130J aircraft were set to return at around 5:30 pm on Saturday.

HSD Secretary Lokman said a new vaccine plan would be chalked out after the arrival of the second consignment from China.

The first gifted consignment of 500,000 vaccine doses were handed over on May 12.

Bangladesh started its nationwide Covid-19 vaccination drive on February 7 by administering Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII).

On April 25, the government suspended administering the first doses with Covishield, as SII had been unable to provide the number of doses now, many people were waiting for second jabs after receiving their first.

The health authorities administered the Sinopharm vaccine to 500 medical college students on May 25. Besides, Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) administered the Sinopharm vaccine to over 450 Chinese citizens.