Bangladesh to get 1m of AZ jabs soon

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Friday made the much anticipated announcement that Bangladesh would get 1.008 million doses of Oxford/ AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine ‘soon’ under the COVAX mechanism.

This comes as a respite as the government was struggling to manage about 1.5 million doses of AZ vaccine to complete the second dose of as many people.

“These doses have been allocated from COVAX supply.  COVAX has not mentioned the source of this supply of AZ vaccine to Bangladesh,” the foreign minister said in a message to the media.

COVAX is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization. It creates vaccine pools to distribute to the countries who cannot manage on their own.

The United States recently announced to donate its extra AZ vaccine doses to COVAX. Bangladesh also sought 2 million doses of AZ vaccine from Washington immediately after knowing that the US had 60 to 80 million AstraZeneca shots in stock.

Bangladesh first managed the AZ vaccine from the Serum Institute of India under a private sector deal. After giving 7 million doses, the Serum stopped to deliver the rest of the agreed 23 million doses due to limited production.

The Indian government, however, gifted 3.3 million doses of vaccine to Bangladesh.

The government is now exploring options of co-production of the Chinese and Russian vaccines in Bangladesh.