Local firms' labs encouraged to keep advancing towards development
The government has signed deals with the World Bank and Asian Development Bank to get Covid-19 vaccine shots quickly, Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora, additional director general of Health Services division, said.
The World Bank has agreed to provide $500 million to Bangladesh in additional financing to buy the Covid-19 vaccine shots, while ADB has agreed to give $940 million, she said on Wednesday at a virtual press conference from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
The $500 million World Bank loan for buying vaccine shots under the "Covid-19 Emergency Response and Pandemic Preparedness Project" will help Bangladesh vaccinate about 54 million people, the multinational lender said on Wednesday.
Also, the World Bank said the project would help Bangladesh procure vaccines; expand storage facilities; and distribute and deploy the vaccines.
However, Sabrina said: "We are in touch with India's Serum Institute about vaccine supply, too. Also, the government is exploring alternative sources of Covid-19 vaccines. "
Sabrina hoped that Bangladesh would get Covax vaccine doses fast.
Covax now has agreements in place to access nearly 2 billion doses of several promising vaccine candidates and laid the groundwork for further doses to be secured through contributions from donors, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on December 18, 2020.
"These agreements mean that all Covax's 190 participating and eligible economies will be able to access doses to protect vulnerable groups in the first half of 2021."
"At least 1.3 billion donor-funded doses will be made available to 92 economies eligible for the Gavi Covax AMC, targeting up to 20% population coverage by the end of the year," the WHO added.
However, Sabrina also said: "If the local companies want to make the vaccine, the government will give them maximum support. The Health Minister Zahid Maleque has already visited the factories of several companies; they are making good progress."