Russia has proposed to manufacture its ‘Sputnik V’ COVID-19 vaccine in Bangladesh in collaboration with the local pharmaceuticals under a co-production arrangement while Bangladesh is searching other sources apart from India to get vaccines.
“We agreed with them (Russia) on co-production (of vaccine) … though it’s not finalized yet,” Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told the media in a recent interview.
Dr Momen said Moscow gave the proposal to manufacture its vaccine here as currently, Russia does not have that much production capacity to export its vaccine to Bangladesh.
As per the proposal, Russia will provide the technology and Bangladeshi pharmaceutical companies will produce the Sputnik V vaccine here, he said.
“If things go well, it will be cheap and hopefully it will be better,” he added.
Recently, India has also approved the use of Sputnik V vaccine, as the country faces vaccine shortages amid an intensifying second wave of the deadly Covid-19 virus.
Fearing that India could run out of vaccine for its own citizens while its opposition leaders are demanding an immediate moratorium on the export of vaccines, Dhaka started vigorously looking for other sources, including China, for getting vaccines.
The minister said Bangladesh did not show much interest about Chinese vaccine earlier as their vaccine is not approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“But, now we are keeping all options open to get vaccine,” Momen said.
However, he said, China has informed Bangladesh that they would not be able to export any vaccine before December as they have already given commitment to other countries to supply their vaccine.
Besides, he said, the World Bank recently informed Bangladesh of providing 80 lakh doses of vaccine under COVAX by next month. “We are hopeful to get those vaccines under COVAX,” he said.
Momen said, the government is also considering to engage the private sector in importing and marketing commercially expensive vaccine like the Pfizer-BioNTech one in the Bangladesh market to meet the demand.
The foreign minister said Bangladesh was one of the few countries to get the vaccine first due to the farsighted leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as she took initiatives regarding this from day one of the outbreak.
The government aims to vaccinate 80 percent of the total population free of cost to check the spread of the deadly virus.
In Bangladesh, so far, nearly 5.5 million people have received the first dose of the vaccine while around seven million more registered for the vaccination.