Publish: Saturday, 30 January, 2021, 10:58 AM | Online Edition
The government has started sending Covid-19 vaccine doses across the country from Dhaka ahead of the mass inoculation campaign set to begin from February 7.As of yesterday, 36 districts have received the vaccine according to a list prepared by the government, said officials, adding that vaccines will reach all 64 districts of the country by tomorrow.
Beximco Pharmaceuticals Limited, the local agent of Serum Institute of India (SII), has been transporting vaccines to the districts as per the agreement with the government.Bangladesh has purchased three crore doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from SII, 50 lakh doses of which arrived in Dhaka on January 25. Besides, the country has received 20 lakh doses of the same vaccine from the Indian government as a gift on January 21.
The government has targeted vaccinating 60 lakh people in the first month and another 50 lakh the following month.According to Beximco, the company has transported a total of 25.32 lakh doses from its Tongi warehouse to 28 districts on Thursday and to eight more districts on Friday in compliance with the government list.
"So far we have sent vaccines to 36 districts and the rest of the districts will get the vaccine on time," Nazmul Hassan Papon, managing director of Beximco, said.
He said they would transport the vaccine to 18 more districts today and to the remaining 10 districts tomorrow.
Papon also hoped that the second consignment of vaccine would arrive on time. According to the tripartite agreement, Bangladesh will get 50 lakh doses every month from the SII.
The COVAX programme, led by the World Health Organisation and Gavi offered Bangladesh around four lakh doses of Pfizer vaccine earlier this month.
The alliance has committed to give Bangladesh a total of 6.8 crore vaccine shots.
"Vaccines are now being dispatched to districts and from there those will be sent to designated hospitals and upazila health complexes. Hopefully, vaccines will reach all districts by January 31," Abul Bashar Mohammed Khurshid Alam, director general of Directorate General of Health Services, told yesterday.
He also said people have been registering for vaccination and hoped that the mass vaccination programme will start smoothly.
He also urged people to register online for getting the vaccine.
On Thursday, vaccines were sent to all districts of Barishal and Mymensingh divisions and some districts of Dhaka, Khulna and Rajshahi divisions.
Dr Mohammad Ibrahim Titon, civil surgeon of Rajbari, said they have received 36,000 doses of the vaccine yesterday.
"We have stored the vaccine. We will be able to start vaccination on the opening day," he said.
Asked how many doses they demanded, he said, "There is no end in demand. We will vaccinate people in phases and there will be no crisis."
Dr AKM Mustafizur Rahman, civil surgeon of Habiganj, said they received 72,000 vaccines yesterday.
"We have enough vaccines. We checked the vials before recaeiving and there was no problem. We will start vaccinating on time," he said.
It has so far been a smooth process, from the government purchasing the vaccine, piloting it and transporting it to the district level.
Healthcare officials of different districts also told correspondents that they did not have any issue so far in storing the vaccine.
But some talked with said they were behind schedule in training volunteers at the district, city corporation and upazilla levels.
Contacted, Dr Shamsul Haque Mridha, member secretary of the National Vaccination Campaign committee of the DGHS, told yesterday, "Training and orientation of volunteers in all upazilas will be started on Saturday. It will be completed everywhere within days. We have time for this."
Asked about the delay, he said, "In fact, we had to change our plan after receiving the vaccines form the Indian government as a gift. We had no plan to run piloting in five hospitals in Dhaka. We have to change our plan considering circumstances."
According to the National Vaccination Plan of the health ministry, the training and orientation of the volunteers at district, city corporation and upazilla levels was scheduled to be held on January 26 and 27.
Besides, the first-line supervisors and vaccinators were supposed to be trained for vaccination from January 23-26.