Uncertainty is looming large over Bangladesh’s availability of Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca as India has banned the export of the jab for several months.
India will not allow the export of the coronavirus vaccine for several months, the head of Serum Institute of India, which has been contracted to make 1 billion doses of the vaccine for developing nations, said on Sunday, reports AP.
With rich nations reserving most of the vaccines that will be made this year, Serum Institute — the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer — is likely to make most of the inoculations for developing countries.
The ban on exports, however, means that poorer nations will probably have to wait a few months before receiving their first shots.
With India approving the coronavirus vaccine, Bangladesh had expected to get the jab in the last week of January.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque has said Bangladesh might get the vaccine at the end of January.
Bangladesh has signed a deal with the Serum Institute of India and local company Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd to procure 3 crore doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine with 50 lakh arriving in every lot.
The vaccine was granted emergency authorization by the Indian regulator on Sunday, but on the condition that Serum Institute doesn’t export the shots to ensure that vulnerable populations in India are protected, Adar Poonawalla, the company’s CEO, said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.
He said the company also has been barred from selling the vaccine on the private market.
“We can only give (the vaccines) to the government of India at the moment,” Poonawalla said, adding the decision was also made to prevent hoarding.
Serum Institute is also negotiating bilateral agreements with individual countries including Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, Poonawalla said. “So that at least the most vulnerable in the states of our country or in other parts of other countries are taken care off,” he said.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told the Somoy News that his ministry was not informed officially anything about the ban on the vaccine export by India.
He also said they communicated the Health Ministry for knowing details.