The health minister says 100 million doses from different countries will arrive in Bangladesh by December this year
Bangladesh has received 4.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from the US and China over the past 24 hours, in a major boost to the nationwide vaccination campaign that resumed Thursday against the deadly disease.
Two consignments of the Moderna vaccine from the US, under the Covax facility, with a little over 2.5 million doses reached Dhaka in two flights -- the first one around 11:30pm Friday and the second one around 8:40am Saturday.
On the other hand, two million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, which Bangladesh bought from China, arrived at the Dhaka airport around 5:30am Saturday.
The same amount of this vaccine had arrived in another flight earlier around 12:40am as well.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and Health Minister Zahid Maleque, along with other relevant officials, had received the vaccine doses on behalf of the government on Friday night.
Talking to reporters at the airport, the health minister said: "A total of 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from different countries will arrive in Bangladesh by December this year. Fifty million people will be vaccinated this year."
The ministers had received the first consignment of 1.3 million, out of 2.5 million, doses of the Moderna vaccine, from US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller at the airport Friday night, reports BSS.
About an hour later, they also received the first consignment of the Sinopharm jabs, brought in by an aircraft of Biman Bangladesh Airlnes, from Chinese officials at the airport.
Earlier, Bangladesh had received 1.1 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China as a gift on two occasions in May and June.
Boost to vaccination drive
The consignments arrived at a time when Bangladesh has been desperately looking for Covid-19 vaccines to inoculate huge numbers of people.
On Thursday, the foreign minister had expressed his optimism that the shortage of vaccines would be over soon as Dhaka is expecting steady supplies of vaccines from different sources.
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On the same day, the health minister in a video message had said that the government will resume the regular vaccination drive after getting these 4.5 million doses of vaccines.
Dhaka had urged Washington DC to send two million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine immediately after knowing that the US had 60 to 80 million shots in stock.
At the same time, Bangladesh was negotiating with China and Russia to bring adequate vaccines here as soon as possible. The foreign minister had earlier said the government was hoping to make a formal announcement soon on the coproduction of Covid-19 vaccines here.
The Health Ministry has been negotiating to purchase 15 million doses of Chinese vaccine and to import five million doses of Sputnik V vaccine from Russia, according to the official sources.
On January 21, Bangladesh had received the first Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine consignment as India sent 20 million doses as a gift. The country got another 1.2 million doses of the vaccine on March 26.
Bangladesh has so far received 12 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII).
The country has so far approved eight Covid-19 vaccines -- including Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac, Sputnik V and Sinopharm -- for use in its fight against the disease that has killed over 14,700 people.
Bangladesh started a pilot vaccination program on January 27 and the nationwide program on February 7 by administering Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by SII, at 1,055 designated hospitals.
Until Friday afternoon, more than 7,270,900 people had registered through the government-run Surokkha website to get the vaccines.
Until Friday, over 1.01 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were administered. Among them, more than 5.82 million people received their first jab and over 4.28 million got both doses.
According to the DGHS, until Friday, over 64,001 people also received the first dose of the Sinopharm vaccine and 2,237 of them got both jabs.
At the same time, some 924 people also received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
The government had suspended the vaccination program on April 25, just a day after India stopped exporting the vaccine due to the record-breaking surge in cases and deaths there.
However, on June 1, Bangladesh received the first consignment of 100,620 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, under the Covax scheme run by WHO and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
That, 1.1 million Sinopharm vaccine doses gifted by China and the doses in stock allowed the health authorities to resume the mass vaccination program across Bangladesh on Thursday, which is continuing amid a strict week-long nationwide lockdown that started from 6am that day.