Bangladesh set stage for COVID-19 vaccine distribution
Published : 20 Jan 2021, 13:06
Bangladesh has set the stage for nationwide COVID-19 vaccine distribution from early February in line with previously laid out plans as the first consignment of Oxford-AstraZeneca inoculates are expected to reach the country by next week, officials said.
“The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca will arrive by January 26,” health services director general (DGHS) Prof Dr Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam told BSS. Alam added his office accomplished all required steps so the countrywide COVID-19 vaccination drive could be launched by the first week of February as initial consignment of nearly 50 lakh vaccine doses were expected to arrive later this month.
DGHS officials earlier said as part of the preparedness the countrywide facilities meant for Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) were readied to store the vaccines to be provided by its co-manufacturer India’s Serum Institute. “People will be vaccinated free of cost meaning the government will bear all expenditures of the vaccination campaign,” Alam added.
Bangladesh is to get the initial supply of inoculates as part of a tripartite memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on November 5 and a subsequent agreement on December 13 among Bangladesh Government, Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd (BPL) and the Serum Institute of India (SII). The agreement ensures availability of three crore COVID-19 vaccine doses in phases from the Serum Institute.
Medical professionals, law enforcement agency members, media workers and local government body officials and employees, elderly people and others in close proximity of COVID-19 patients were listed as priority groups for the inoculate.
DGHS additional director general Professor Nasima Sultana said each person needs two doses of vaccines while one would be inoculated with the second dose eight weeks after receiving the first jab. She said DGHS planned to carry out the vaccination campaign among 50 lakh people in the initial phase while roughly 50 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses would arrive each month in Bangladesh.
The government by now formed 7344 vaccine distribution teams comprising six health workers entrusted with proper distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Nasima said as many as 42,000 health workers were trained.
She said Directorate of Drug Administration was entrusted with the task to strictly oversee the entire vaccine distribution process among the listed people while the DGHS would disseminate regular vaccine distribution bulletin to provide all necessary information to the people.
EPI director Dr Md Shamsul Haque said the facilities under his office could preserve 14 to 15 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses while each district level hospital has a capacity to preserve 4.25 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Besides, he said, each government hospital has five to ten ice freezers which have capacity to store nearly 71,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses.“We have vaccine preservation facility under EPI programme up to upazila level and all our stores have already been prepared to preserve COVID-19 vaccines,” he said.
Haque said Bangladesh could apply four to five crore COVID-19 vaccine doses in an appropriate manner in view of the vaccine storage facilities. “Our EPI programme will extend all-out support to make COVID-19 vaccination campaign a success,” he said.
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