Bangladesh will be through its remaining COVID-19 vaccine stocks within a week and has stepped up its efforts to replenish them to continue its mass inoculation program, according to officials.
The South Asian nation of 165 million has already contacted the US, UK and Canada through official channels to secure some 3.5 million doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine as emergency shipments, according to the Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
“Vaccines stocks will be empty after this week across the country. Jabs have already run out at vaccination stations where more [people] have registered, while only limited doses remain in stock where registration numbers for inoculation are lower,” Nazmul Islam, spokesman of the Directorate-General of Health Services (DGHS) said during a video briefing.
The shortage has deepened as authorities have for now ruled out vaccinating people with jabs from different producers over the two-dose inoculation course. Current estimates indicate that the current stocks do not cover the second doses of 1.5 million people who have received their first AstraZeneca jab.
Islam noted, however, that officials could reverse course “if there is a strong recommendation from the WHO [World Health Organization] or other global expert groups” that different vaccines could be used on a single person.
As of Sunday, roughly 3.9 million people received the full two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, while about 5.8 million have gotten just the first, he added.
Bangladesh has already suspended first-dose vaccinations and new registrations for inoculation due to the shortage.
The country had earlier signed a deal with India to purchase 30 million doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. It has so far gotten only 7 million in two installments, as well as a gift from India of 3.2 million doses.
– Lockdown extends, restriction ease
The government on Sunday issued an official circular extending the ongoing nationwide lockdown until the end of the month. Authorities have allowed public transportation — including road, marine and rail — at half capacity and in compliance with health guidelines.
Public transportation resumed after 39 days of suspension since the lockdown began on April 5. Bangladesh has reported a total of 12,376 deaths due to COVID-19 and 789,080 infections as of Sunday, according to official figures.
Nine patients have so far been detected with comparatively dangerous and infectious Indian variant in the country, the official added.
Source: Anadolu Agency