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Bangladesh approves Russian vaccine for emergency use

4M Sputnik V doses may reach country in May, say officials after deal on vaccine co-production

SM Najmus Sakib   | 27.04.2021
Bangladesh approves Russian vaccine for emergency use

DHAKA, Bangladesh

Drug authorities in Bangladesh on Tuesday approved Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in the country following a vaccine co-production deal earlier this week.

Maj. Gen. Md Mahbubur Rahman, head of Directorate General of Drug Administration, confirmed it while briefing the media in Dhaka, saying: “Bangladesh can now import and inoculate the Russian vaccine as legal proceedings to this end has been completed.”

Bangladesh will administer the vaccine as it is expecting the arrival of around four million vaccine doses in the coming month of May, he added.

“The approved vaccine by Russia is being administered in seven countries. We also received the Sputnik V-related official data from Russia. And we've given approval to the vaccine claimed to have 91% effectiveness against COVID-19 following an expert team evaluation of those given data,” he noted.

Before that, Bangladesh signed a COVID-19 vaccine co-production agreement with Russia to continue its inoculation campaign.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen in a media briefing in Dhaka said the Russian Sputnik V vaccine would take at least two weeks to arrive in Bangladesh.

“We conveyed to Russia, China, and India that we need the immediate shipment of vaccines as our vaccine stock is going out, ... and vaccines from any of those countries would take at least two weeks to complete official procedure for shipment,” the minister added.

China also said it will work with Bangladesh over the vaccine issue, the minister said on Tuesday following a virtual foreign ministers' meeting with China, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Bangladesh has decided to join the China-led initiative platform of six countries -- China-South Asia Platform for COVID-19 Consultation, Cooperation, and Post-pandemic Economic Recovery.

The initiative also invited India, said Momen.

Meanwhile, the Bangladeshi government is also working to get vaccines from China and it will get 500,000 vaccines initially from China as a gift, the Foreign Ministry noted.

The country has already suspended administering the first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine considering its vaccine stock amid uncertainty over the timely arrival of shipments from India.

Bangladesh earlier signed a tripartite agreement with the Serum Institute of India to procure 30 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at five million doses per month from January to June this year. India, however, gave three million doses as a gift to Dhaka.

But the country has only received seven million doses as of April, and India said it would not be exporting the vaccine in the next two months due to a domestic shortage.

Around 5.8 million people in Bangladesh had received their first doses and 2.4 million took the second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, while COVID-19 has killed at least 11,228 people and infected 751,659 others in the country, according to the Health Ministry.

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