• Wednesday, Oct 05, 2022
  • Last Update : 09:24 am

Vaccine co-production: Bangladesh signs MoU with Sinopharm, Incepta

  • Published at 10:05 am August 16th, 2021
File photo: Till now, 13.5 million Sinopharm vaccines have arrived from China. Of them, 1.1 million shots were received under the Covax facility Reuters

Local vaccine production to begin as soon as possible, health minister says

The Bangladesh government has signed a tripartite agreement with China’s Sinopharm and local drug manufacturer Incepta Pharmaceuticals Ltd on co-production of Covid-19 vaccines.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by Health Minister Zahid Maleque, Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming, and Incepta Chairman Abdul Muktadir on behalf of their respective sides.

As per the MoU, Incepta will bring in the material for the vaccines in bulk, before bottling, labelling, and finishing the vaccines locally. This process is much cheaper than buying the completed vaccines. 

The local pharmaceutical company is set to start producing the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible, with Bangladesh planning to ramp up vaccination in the coming days.

Also Read - Bangladesh to sign MoU on co-production of Sinopharm vaccine on Monday

Experts have said the Sinopharm vaccine is easier to store than other Covid-19 jabs, and this will make it easier for the government to distribute it in remote areas of the country.

Health minister: Incepta has all necessary facilities for co-production

Health Minister Zahid Maleque has expressed confidence in Incepta’s ability to bring in and co-produce the Sinopharm vaccine.

“Incepta has all the facilities needed to co-produce the Sinopharm vaccine. We hope that it will be able to complete and provide the vaccine soon,” the minister told the media after the signing of the MoU.

Officials unload the latest shipment of Sinopharm vaccine, one million doses that China sent to Bangladesh as a gift, from the cargo of a charter flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka on Friday, August 13, 2021 |Courtesy: Chinese Embassy in Dhaka He added that local production was the only way that Bangladesh would be able to get the 260 million doses required to vaccinate enough of the population to ensure herd immunity.

The health minister noted that Bangladesh was scheduled to receive another five million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China after August 22.

Li Jiming: China and Bangladesh together will build Great Wall against Covid-19

Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming said China wished to work together with Bangladesh and other countries to build a “Great Wall” against Covid-19.

“China has no political motive or economic calculations, and China does not attach any political strings. The only purpose of China is to make vaccines a global public good that truly serves people’s interests and helps the world defeat the pandemic at an early date,” he said.

The ambassador also urged that vaccines be shared with greater intensity and speed to make them accessible to and affordable for developing countries around the world as quickly as possible, especially the least developed countries.

Also Read- Maleque: Bangladesh will buy 60 million more Sinopharm vaccine doses from China

“China acted quickly to provide vaccines to fellow developing countries in need. Although China's vaccine production capacity has yet to reach a sizable scale and domestic demand for vaccination has been rising sharply, China has already donated, and is donating, vaccines to over 100 countries, through bilateral or international channels, and is exporting vaccines to over 60 countries,” Li Jiming said.

Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming (left) formally hands over the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine to Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen (right) and Health Minister Zahid Maleque (centre) at the state guest house Padma in Dhaka on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 | PID

He added that China had already provided 800 million doses to other countries, and was striving to provide two billion doses in the course of this year.

“At the bilateral level, China is one of the most reliable partners of Bangladesh in terms of vaccine cooperation. China has provided 2.1 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine as a gift to Bangladesh, 3.4 million doses under the Covax facility, and eight million doses as part of an arrangement of a large-scale commercial purchase,” according to the ambassador. 

Vaccines in Bangladesh

On Friday, one million Sinopharm vaccine doses arrived in Bangladesh from China. This was the third shipment of Sinopharm vaccine doses that China has sent to Bangladesh as a gift.

The previous Sinopharm shipments that China sent to Bangladesh as a gift were 500,000 doses, which arrived on May 12, and 600,000, which arrived on May 21.

The Bangladesh government has also paid China for 15 million doses of the vaccine, of which seven million doses have already been delivered to Bangladesh.

On August 11, the Cabinet Committee on Public Procurement approved a proposal regarding the purchase of 60 million doses of the Covid vaccine from Sinopharm.

Bangladesh also received 3.4 million doses of the same vaccine under the Covax facility.

The country is currently administering vaccines developed by four companies — AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Sinopharm.

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