Bangladesh has decided to buy COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech through COVAX, a platform to ensure coronavirus shots reach those in greatest need, an official confirmed on Sunday.
The UN-led initiative has asked Bangladesh if it is interested in the coronavirus vaccine jointly developed by US and German pharmaceuticals, and has to respond by Jan. 18, Dr. Meerjady Sabrina Flora of the Directorate General of Health Services told Anadolu Agency.
“Our office is working to submit a complete plan to secure the vaccine in Bangladesh, including its supply, distribution and storage,” she said.
The temperature required to store the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is -70 degrees Celsius.
COVAX is led by the World Health Organization, and has promised to deliver 2 billion doses of safe and effective vaccines to at least 172 countries by the end of 2021.
The development comes amid uncertainty about the availability of doses from India. Bangladesh has signed an agreement with the Serum Institute of India, which is manufacturing the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, for 30 million doses.
India, which has recorded the second-highest number of COVID-19 infections in the world, is launching its vaccination drive on Jan. 16.
The country’s drugs regulator has given the green light to two vaccines — one developed by AstraZeneca with Oxford University (Covishield) and another by local firm Bharat Biotech (Covaxin).
Virologist Mushtaq Hossain, an adviser to the Bangladesh government on COVID-19, said a single source would not be enough to vaccinate the entire country, which has a population of 165 million. “We need a number of sources and the government should work to ensure that,” he told Anadolu Agency.
The South Asian country has so far registered 522,453 cases and 7,781 related deaths.
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