• Tuesday, Dec 06, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Cabinet committee clears proposal to buy Sinopharm Covid vaccine from China

  • Published at 12:41 pm May 19th, 2021
File photo: A healthcare worker in North Macedonia handles China's Sinopharm coronavirus disease vaccines at a sport centre, as the country continues its mass inoculation campaign, in Stip, North Macedonia May 6, 2021 Reuters

Procurement of 40 oxygen generators also okayed

The government has approved a proposal in principle to procure the Covid-19 vaccine from Sinopharm, a Chinese state-owned enterprise, under the direct procurement method (DPM) in order to meet the country’s growing demand.

The approval came from this year’s 15th meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs held virtually on Wednesday, with Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in the chair.

Also Read - Half a million doses of Sinopharm vaccine reach Dhaka

Briefing reporters after the meeting virtually, Cabinet Division Additional Secretary Dr Sahida Akhter said that the proposal was given approval considering protection of public health, reducing Covid-19 infection rate on emergency state purpose.

Answering a question, the finance minister said had the Health Ministry brought this proposal much earlier, the government could have avoided the DPM method and thus could have saved money.

File photo: 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 May 12, 2021 | PID

“But, the Covid-19 is now continuing its havoc across the globe while new variants are coming every now and then. This procurement proposal of vaccines has been given approval in order to save lives of people and also to render health services,” Kamal said, adding that the Finance Ministry has urged all to maintain austerity during this difficult time of the pandemic.

The move came just a day after a government official revealed that Bangladesh will receive 106,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine on June 2. 

Meanwhile, Sahida said the day’s meeting also approved a proposal in principle from the Health Services Division to procure some 40 oxygen generators under the DPM method for the Central Medical Stores Depot (CMSD) for treating Covid-19 patients.

Also Read - Health Minister: Administering of Chinese Covid-19 vaccine to begin on May 25 or 26

Besides, the meeting approved another proposal in principle from the industries ministry for signing agreements for procuring some 1.28 million tons of urea fertilizer by the Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) to maintain the necessary supply of urea fertilizer throughout the next fiscal year under different state-level agreements.

Out of the 1.28 million tons of fertilizer, some 500,000 tons will be procured from Muntajat, Qatar, some 500,000 tons will be procured from Saudi Arabia and some 280,000 tons from the United Arab Emirates.

The Covid-19 vaccines 

Bangladesh launched its nationwide vaccination drive on February 7 with Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses purchased from the Serum Institute of India (SII).

The country has so far received seven million doses of the vaccine from SII through a contract for 30 million doses. Bangladesh also received 3.3 million doses of vaccine from India as a bilateral partnership gift.

But a record number of cases in India has made the delivery of the rest of the doses by SII uncertain after the Indian government imposed a ban on vaccine export for meeting its local demand.

Due to the vaccine shortage, the administration of the first dose in Bangladesh was suspended on April 26. The authorities have also suspended the vaccine registration process.

Also Read - Bangladesh to receive 106,000 doses of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine on June 2

On May 12, as many as 500,000 doses of the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine, donated by the Chinese government to Bangladesh, had also arrived in Dhaka amid the shortage.

The health authorities currently have around 600,000 doses of the vaccine for the second shot, but over two million people are yet to get the second jab.

In light of the situation, the Bangladesh government has also sought immediate delivery of four million vaccine doses from the US, which plans to share up to 60 million doses of its Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine with other countries as they become available. 

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