Bangladesh to begin COVID vaccination drive with 20 doses on first day: official

The drive is expected to begin either on Jan 27 or Jan 29, according to Md Abdul Mannan.

The country is expected to receive 2 million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine as gift from India on Thursday.

The shipment will be separate from the 30 million doses of the vaccine ordered by the government from the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.

Beximco Pharmaceuticals, the sole distributor of the vaccine in Bangladesh, will also bring some doses for private sales.

The first doses of the vaccine ordered by the government are expected to arrive by Jan 25. Serum will send 5 million doses a month.

Initially, Bangladesh had planned to launch the vaccination drive in the first half of February, but the early arrival of the doses has prompted the authorities to bring the date forward.

At a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday, Secretary Mannan said the government has finalised the plan to distribute the vaccines.

One representative each from the doctors, nurses, freedom fighters, teachers, police, the army, administration and journalists will get the shots on the first day in line with the plan, according to him.

“We’ve planned to give the doses to 20 to 25 people on the first day. Now we are working on who these people will be,” he said.

“We’ve fixed a possible date – Jan 27 or 29, but it’s not final,” he added.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the vaccination drive at Dhaka’s Kurmitola General Hospital as per the initial plan.

Besides the Kurmitola General Hospital, the government has chosen the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Mugda Medical College Hospital, and Kuwait-Bangladesh Friendship Hospital as the places where 400-500 shots will be given on the second day in a dry run, Mannan said.

“We will wait for another week in line with the World Health Organization protocol to see if there is any side effect of the vaccine,” the health secretary said.

The distribution of the vaccine will begin after the primary observation with Beximco delivering the doses to the districts.

The doses arriving as gift from the government of India will be sent to the districts under the Expanded Programme on Immunization, Mannan said.

The jabs will be given at district and Upazila levels, and the medical colleges on Feb 8.

 The gift vaccines will be stored in Dhaka.

No vaccine will be given at private hospitals in this phase, the secretary said.

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