Bangladesh on Thursday approved the emergency use of China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, two days after allowing Russia's Sputnik amidst concern over the availability of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India.
The development came as health officials reported 88 deaths in the country due to the coronavirus in one day, taking the total number of fatalities to 11,393.
Directorate General of Drug Administration Major General Mahbubur Rahman told reporters here that the Bangladesh government has issued the “emergency use approval for the Sinopharm vaccine”.
The Chinese vaccine would be procured through the government-to government (G2G) agreement while talks were also underway on manufacturing Sinopharm in Bangladesh itself, he said.
In the last one day, as many as 2,341 people tested positive for the COVID-19, bringing down the infection rate to 9.39% with official statistics suggesting the positivity rate to come down below 10% after 40 days.
Health officials earlier said that the second wave of the coronavirus prompted the government to allow the use of Russian and Chinese vaccines though they were yet to get the World Health Organisation (WHO) approval.
The WHO, however, said it was expecting to reach a decision on Sinopharm vaccine by the end of the week.
"They (China) by now gave as gift 0.5 million doses which is expected to reach by next two weeks ahead of finalising the procurement arrangement exhausting the official formalities," Mr. Rahman said.
According to officials, Russia proposed to co-produce its ‘Sputnik’ vaccine in Bangladesh but the proposal was yet to be finalised.
Three Bangladeshi pharmaceutical companies have the vaccine producing capacities while "the Chinese and Russians will come and inspect the plants" ahead of reaching any co-production arrangement.
Dhaka started vigorously hunting for other vaccine sources, including China, fearing it could run out of vaccines produced by the Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer.
Bangladesh purchased 30 million doses of India-made vaccine and under an agreement, received seven million doses in two consignments until February while the third consignment, which was expected in March, is yet to reach.
India, however, provided Bangladesh 3.2 million doses as a gift.