It will be more cost-effective if a local company gets the license to produce vaccines in Bangladesh, Dr Nazrul Islam says
Bangladesh must give priority in getting license for co-producing Covid-19 vaccine to ensure uninterrupted supply of millions of jabs to inoculate the entire population, experts have said.
They also mentioned that the decision of importing the Sinopharm vaccine in bulk, and then bottling and labeling of the vaccine in the country is a good start to get vaccines at a relatively cheaper rate.
Bangladesh and China are set to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with relevant parties on Monday in this connection.
Former VC of BSMMU and virologist Prof Dr Nazrul Islam told Dhaka Tribune that Bangladesh should go for vaccine co-production, as it is not wise to rely on imported vaccines.
“Co-production means a company in Bangladesh gets a license to produce a Covid-19 vaccine locally. Buying materials in bulk and bottling those is an option, but producing vaccines is a much better one,” he said.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen earlier said the government of Bangladesh, Sinopharm and a local company - Incepta Pharmaceuticals Ltd - would sign an agreement in this regard.
He said Incepta Pharmaceuticals Limited would import the material in bulk and do the packaging, which would help cut the price of the vaccine.
Dr Islam said it would be more cost-effective if a local company gets the license to produce vaccines in Bangladesh instead of just buying it in bulk and bottling it.
“There is a possibility that a person may need to take vaccine shots every year. Therefore, buying vaccines for this large population in Bangladesh would be a real challenge for the government if we cannot produce vaccines locally,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
Another advantage of co-producing is that it will create more scopes for conducting specific Covid research in Bangladesh, he added.
In a recent report published by Center for Peace and Genocide Studies, Prof Imtiaz Ahmed of Dhaka University said: “While keeping multiple sources open, Bangladesh should put stress on co-production and local production of the Covid-19 vaccines.”
“It is important to keep in mind here that the quicker we can vaccinate the population, the quicker will Bangladesh be able to protect lives and create a positive image, which will go a long way in not only attracting local and foreign investors and entrepreneurs, but also in boosting our exports in the world market,” he added.
He also said that as of August 2021, more than three million people were vaccinated, which only showed the strength of Bangladesh’s vaccination infrastructure. However, the problem remains with supply.
“Unless the supply in big quantities is ensured, Bangladesh will not be able to maintain its mass vaccination campaign and contain the Covid-19 pandemic in the shortest possible time,” he said in his editorial note.
Sinopharm MoU signing
The signing ceremony of the MoU is scheduled to be held at 3pm on Monday at the BCPS Auditorium in Mohakhali, Dhaka, according to the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka.
Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming are set to attend the event.
As of Sunday, a total of 7,131,408 people have received the first dose of Sinopharm vaccine and a total of 3,881,136 people received both doses of Sinopharm shots.