July 3, 2022, 8:36 pm

Staff Correspondent

2022-02-26 15:42:56 BdST

Dhaka in no hurry to receive Serum vaccines, thanks to supply glut

The government now pursues a wait-and-see policy in receiving delivery of remaining consignments of the previously-ordered AstraZeneca vaccines from the Serum Institute of India (SII), officials say.

The present sufficient stock of the coronavirus jabs due to their availability from other alternative sources has prompted the authorities concerned to go slow with the procurement process.

"As we have enough stock of antidotes in our hands now, we need not hurry to get the vaccines from SII, which we ordered in late 2020," DGHS Director- General Dr A B M Khurshid Alam says.

He mentioned that they told the SII authorities that they do not need the remaining portion of the order right at the moment as Bangladesh has enough supply of jabs.

"We will seek more vaccines from them once we feel it is necessary."

Asked about the money paid against the order, the DGHS chief noted that they had paid half the amount of money as per the deal, and already received half of the ordered jabs.

According to him, the government has a stock of 100 million vaccines, while 80 million more would come soon, which is sufficient until now.

The government, in November 2020, signed an agreement with SII and local drug-maker Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd to collect 30 million doses of covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.

But SII halted the shipment after sending 7.0 million doses in two consignments in March 2021 - following a massive outbreak of the pandemic virus in India.

After a seven-month halt, SII resumed vaccine export in October. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the company has so far supplied 15 million vaccines.

When contacted, Chief Operating Officer of Beximco Pharma Rabbur Reza said they had received 15 million doses of the vaccine.

Regarding their plan for the remaining portion of the order, he did not say anything, suggesting communication with the government agencies concerned regarding procurement of the remaining 15 million.

Seeking anonymity, an official at the ministry said the government intensified efforts for alternative sourcing options once India's Serum suspended export of Covishield.

"We are getting good responses from the sources. As we faced difficulties in receiving the vaccines ordered earlier, we've decided not to take SII jabs right at the moment," he adds.

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