THE Bangladesh health minister announced on Tuesday (6) that one million doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine could be received from the COVAX facility this month.
Zahid Maleque also revealed that the Serum Institute of India (SII) could resume supplies from August.
Densely populated Bangladesh is in desperate need of vaccines as a jump in infections has filled up hospitals and depleted supplies of medical oxygen.
He said SII could resume direct supplies of Covishield, a licensed version of the AstraZeneca shot to Bangladesh from next month. Indian producers including SII, the main supplier to COVAX, stopped all vaccine exports in the middle of April to meet local demand as infections shot up.
Maleque said, “They haven’t received specified the number of doses but assured us it won’t be small.”
Bangladesh has a deal for 30 million Covishield doses with SII but has only received 7 million, which it has used to fully immunise about 3 per cent of its 170 million people.
The country urgently needs 1.5 million doses to fully immunise other recipients of a first dose and has sought help from the United States, Canada and others.
Bangladesh has also received two million of the 15 million doses of Sinopharm vaccine it has ordered, as well as 2.5 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine and 100,000 of Pfizer’s through COVAX.
“It’s critical that richer countries share more vaccines with Bangladesh in the coming days and weeks to help avoid the horrors caused by Covid-19 in India,” said Sanjeev Kafely, Bangladesh head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.