GIFT FROM INDIA: 20 LAKH VACCINE DOSES ARRIVE TODAY
India's gift of 20 lakh doses of Covishield is likely to arrive in Bangladesh today.
Besides, the first shipment of the doses bought by Bangladesh is scheduled to arrive on January 25, Health Secretary Abdul Mannan told a press conference at the Prime Minister's Office yesterday.
Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd Managing Director Nazmul Hassan Papon told The Daily Star that details of the flight schedule will be known by today.
Bangladesh purchased three crore doses of Covishield, the coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and drugmaker AstraZeneca and manufactured by Serum Institute of India.
The procurement was done through a tripartite agreement signed between the government, Serum and its local partner Beximco Pharmaceuticals on November 5 last year.
The first shipment will contain 50 lakh doses.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen yesterday said several other countries, including Russia and China, were interested in sending vaccines to Bangladesh and some private companies were willing to import them.
There will be plenty of vaccine doses in the coming days, he added.
Health Secretary Abdul Mannan said the 20-lakh dose gift would reach the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport around 1:30pm today.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque, Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami, and other government officials will be at the airport at the time.
The secretary said refrigerated trucks of the Expanded Programme on Immunization would carry the vaccine to a storage facility in the capital's Tejgaon.
At first, between 400 and 500 people will be given the shots at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Kurmitola General Hospital, Mugda Medical College Hospital and Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital.
"We will observe the recipients for seven days," Mannan said.
Before that, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will virtually inaugurate the vaccination campaign. The date has yet to be fixed, the secretary said.
Some 20-25 health workers or other frontline workers, freedom fighters, and civil society members will be inoculated during the inauguration.
Beximco will deliver the purchased doses to the EPI storage facilities in districts across the country, the secretary said.
The shots will then be taken to certain upazila-level hospitals using EPI vehicles.
Countrywide inoculation will be launched after the inauguration and the seven-day observation.
"A total of 60 lakh people will be vaccinated in the first month and 50 lakh in the second month. In the third month, the 60 lakh people who received the first shot in the first month would get the second shot," the health secretary said.
Each vaccine recipient will be kept under observation for 10-15 minutes and if they show any adverse effect, they will be treated at the hospital where they were inoculated.
Director General Prof ABM Khurshid Alam of the Directorate General Health Services said the Oxford vaccine had only minor side-effects like rash, mild pain and fever.
"In case of any vaccination, there is a risk of anaphylactic shock [a serious allergic reaction]. But we have not heard about this effect in the case of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine," he said.
The health secretary said each vaccine recipient would be followed up via the telemedicine number: 16263.
N M Ziaul Alam, senior secretary at the ICT Division, demonstrated the registration process for the vaccination on a mobile app called "Shuroksha".
Asked whether it would be possible to report adverse effects using the app, Ziaul said the option would be included by the end of this month.
He didn't say when the app would be available to the public.