While Indian vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute has clearly expressed its inability of supplying further consignments of COVID vaccine to Bangladesh, according to Reuters report, the company would sell the AstraZeneca vaccine to private hospitals at US$8 per dose rate. The Indian government approved a 45.67-billion-rupee ($610 million) grant for COVID-19 vaccine makers Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech to boost production capacity as infections spread at record speed.
The Bangladesh government is using the AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, in its mass inoculation drive against coronavirus.
It signed a deal with Serum for 30 million doses, but a surge in coronavirus cases in India prompted the country to strengthen its immunization drive by halting the export of the vaccine.
Bangladesh is also expected to get 12.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX program co-led by the World Health Organization in the middle of 2021.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has initiated efforts to bring vaccine from other countries, not just Oxford vaccine from India.
Russia has proposed to manufacture its ‘Sputnik V’ Covid-19 vaccine in Bangladesh in collaboration with local pharmaceutical firms under a co-production arrangement while Dhaka is searching other sources apart from India amidst a spike in infections in the country.
Russia has invited Bangladesh to be a vaccine co-producer with its technology, saying currently the country lacks the production capacity to export its vaccine to Bangladesh.
As per the proposal, Russia will give the technology and Bangladeshi pharmaceutical companies will produce the Sputnik vaccine here, the Bangladesh Foreign Minister said.
“If things go well … It will be cheap and hopefully it will be better,” he added.
Bangladesh so far was dependent on India’s Serum Institute. But as India was facing vaccine shortages amid an intensifying second wave of the deadly Covid-19 virus, the Pune-based vaccine producer has not been able to supply the doses to Bangladesh and other countries.
In November 2020 Bangladesh entered into a deal with the Serum Institute of India (SII) to acquire 30 million doses of a potential vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca for Covid-19.
SII and Bangladesh’s drug-maker Beximco Pharma signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for priority delivery of the vaccine doses.
Under the deal, Beximco was supposed to receive five million doses of vaccine per month.
Russian Sputnik vaccine is much effective than AstraZeneca
An analysis of the 3.8 million Russians who received both Sputnik V shots between December and March showed that the vaccine has 97.6 per cent efficacy, the inoculation’s state-run developers said in a statement on Monday (April 19).
The data, which compare the infection rate of people who received the shots with the incidence among the unvaccinated population, will be published in a peer-reviewed journal in May, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund and Gamaleya National Research Centre.
The new effectiveness rate is higher than the 91.6 per cent rate outlined in results from a large-scale trial of Sputnik V and published in The Lancet medical journal earlier this year.
Using a database of people who received both doses of the vaccine, scientists at Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, which developed it, calculated a real-world effectiveness rate of 97.6 per cent, according to Russian scientist Denis Logunov, a lead developer of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, during a presentation for the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The high efficacy will be welcomed by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is working “very intensely” with Russian and Chinese authorities to get their vaccines pre-qualified, director Hans Kluge said in Belgrade after a meeting with Serbia’s health minister.
“In order to get out of the pandemic, we need to accelerate vaccination. We need to increase the production capacity and to expand the portfolio of vaccines,” Mr Kluge said.