Dhaka receives 245K AstraZeneca shots from Tokyo on Saturday, set to receive over 3m in total in coming days
On the heels of swelling coronavirus infections throughout the country, Bangladesh will start co-producing vaccines for Covid-19 soon, according to Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen.
Dhaka has already received a proposal in this regard, he said, without providing any further details.
Foreign Minister Momen was speaking after receiving 245,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Japan at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Saturday.
Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki was also present on the occasion.
Expressing his gratitude to the people and government of Japan for providing the vaccines, he stated that more than double the amount received on Saturday would arrive next Friday.
“We are very fortunate … We are very pleased that Japan has sent us the AstraZeneca vaccines. Fifteen to 16 lakh of our people are waiting for their second dose of AstraZeneca vaccines,” said the minister.
“Japan is an old friend. Japan never imposes any conditions on the aid it provides, which is the mark of a good friend,” he said.
“Japan will send us 3 million plus AstraZeneca vaccines in total. Earlier the number was 2.9 million. Later another 150,000 were added,” he added.
Momen said that there would be no dearth of vaccines in the coming months as more than 20 million vaccines were in the pipeline.
He also said that since Covid-19 was not going away anytime soon, there was no alternative to producing the vaccines locally.
“If we don’t produce the vaccines locally the cost will be high,” he said.
“We have already got a proposal for co-production. We'll go for it soon,” he added without elaborating further.
When asked whether it would be co-production or bottling, the journalists were told that the country or countries of origin would send materials in bulk and the Bangladeshi entities would do the rest.
250 ventilators arrive Saturday amidst ICU suffering
Dr Abdullah, personal physician to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said that Bangladesh was scheduled to receive 250 ventilators last night, with which ICU (intensive care unit) support could be provided to patients.
“This is an initiative by our four eminent doctors in the United States and one in Canada. We’ll provide you with the details in the evening. This has been possible due to the effort of our prime minister. This is very good news. I’m coordinating,” he said.
Dr Abdullah said: “Each ventilator costs $16,000. But we’re getting them free of charge. With these ventilators ICU support will be provided even at union level.”
“We’ve been suffering with respect to ICU,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry made it known that the ventilators were scheduled to arrive from New Delhi at 8:30pm on Saturday.
It said that the foreign secretary, health secretary and the prime minister’s personal physician would receive the ventilators at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.