DGHS reaffirms plan to complete vaccination by 2022

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Dailynewsun Desk:

Bangladesh’s health authorities on Sunday said they were confident to vaccinate the country’s target 80 percent population by 2022 under an accelerated inoculation campaign, expecting receipt of required COVID-19 jabs within estimated timeline.

“We are hopeful about getting a significant quantity of vaccines by January next year under agreements we signed with manufacturers,” Director General of Directorate General of Health Service (DGHS), said Professor Dr Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam.

He said Bangladesh by now was set to purchase roughly 140 million vaccine doses within June next year and expect to procure the rest required jab quantum in subsequent months to implement the plan.

The DGHS chief said the country already reached or finalized deals with different countries and companies as part of the procurement process to vaccinate the target 130 million people.

Under the agreements, he said, Bangladesh would get 30 million vaccine doses from China’s Sinopharm, 10 million Sputnik V of Russia, 70 million Johnson & Johnson and 6.5 million from Pfizer of the US and three million AstraZeneca from Japan.

Beside, Alam said, Bangladesh was collecting vaccines under 68 million doses from COVAX facilities free of cost as well though there still remained some hurdles in getting the jabs from that particular source.

The single shot of Johnson & Johnson vaccine completes the dose, meaning the 70 million people would come under the inoculation coverage with its inoculates while the other jabs required two shots for individuals.

Health officials said Bangladesh so far collected some 30 million vaccine doses.

“Nearly half a million of people are now being vaccinated everyday and the number is increasing gradually . . . we now have the capacity to immunize 10 million people every month as infrastructures were developed at grassroots.” the DGHS chief said.

The DGHS chief said they expect to vaccinate the target people in next 16 months without taking much into account the home production of inoculates under a co-manufacturing deal between Bangladesh’s Incepta and China’s Sinopharm.

Bangladesh launched a countrywide accelerated vaccination campaign easing receiving procedures on February 7 this year after the process was slowed down due to unavailability of inoculates.

The country initially was wholly dependent on supplies of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by India’s Serum Institute (SII) but it could not continue to provide the jabs due to unexpected increase of demand in India.

A tripartite procurement agreement was signed among Bangladesh government, Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd and SII in December last year for 30 million Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine but Bangladesh received only seven million doses so far.

“However, right at this moment, Bangladesh is on track towards fulfilling the target of vaccinating 80 percent people by 2022,” the health service chief said.

Health ministry officials said Bangladesh will get one million Pfizer vaccine doses as US gifts on August 30 (tomorrow) under a global vaccine-sharing initiative COVAX.

They expected the total six million Pfizer vaccine shots to reach Bangladesh by September this year.

The official data suggests as of August 28, over 18 million people received the first vaccine dose and over 7.6 million exhausted the course getting the second dose of the inoculate.

More than 37 million people by now got them registered to get the vaccine.

“Every month one crore people in the country will have to vaccinated, meaning four lakh people every day, to get the full benefit of vaccines,” National technical advisory committee (NTAC) on Covid-19 president Professor Mohammad Shahidullah said.

But he insisted on maintaining the road map in carrying on the vaccination campaign properly in view of Bangladesh’s huge population size, “which is much bigger than many countries of the world”. -BSS