September 23, 2023, 8:33 pm

Diplomatic correspondent

2021-12-14 15:34:14 BdST

Bangladesh gets over 4.0m doses of AZ vaccine from UK

The United Kingdom has donated 4.0 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to help the country fight the coronavirus pandemic and make an economic recovery.

The first batch of the vaccines, made by Oxford BioMedica and packaged in Wales, arrived on Monday under the global vaccine-sharing initiative COVAX, the British High Commission in Dhaka said in a statement.

The donation forms part of the commitment made by Britain at G7 this year to distribute 100 million vaccine doses worldwide by June 2022. About 80 per cent of those doses will be distributed through the COVAX facility.

“We welcome the arrival of over 4.0 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the UK to Bangladesh,” British High Commissioner Robert Chatterton Dickson said.

“Like the rest of the world, the UK and Bangladesh have experienced difficult times because of the pandemic. And we are both in it together in building back better, safer, greener.”

The donation is a powerful demonstration of the bond between the two countries, according to him.

“The UK will do everything we can to support Bangladesh to save lives and defeat the pandemic.”

The UK has been at the forefront of the global response to COVID-19, including through investing £90 million to support the development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Over half a billion doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have been delivered at a non-profit price globally, with two-thirds going to lower and middle-income countries.

Bangladesh launched its immunisation campaign against COVID-19 using the AstraZeneca vaccine purchased from the Serum Institute of India.

The government and Beximco signed a deal with Serum Institute for 30 million doses of the vaccine.

After India halted exports due to its own crisis, Bangladesh stopped administering the first doses to save second shots for the people who have had the first dose.

But Bangladesh was already short of enough doses to fully vaccinate all the citizens who have received the first dose.

More than 1.5 million people missed the second dose on expected dates. They were fully vaccinated after AstraZeneca vaccines arrived from Japan under the global sharing platform COVAX.

Serum has since sent 5.5 million doses in two shipments in November and December, taking the number of doses received from it to 12.5 million.

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