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    Bangladesh signs deal with China to buy vaccines

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    subsidiary China National Biotec Group (CNBG), taken on April 15, 2021 Reuters

    ‘We have to maintain non-disclosure clauses strictly according to the deal,’ says Health Minister Zahid Maleque

    Bangladesh has inked a deal with China to buy the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said Saturday.

    Meanwhile, China is set to deliver 600,000 doses of the vaccine in a second consignment given to Bangladesh as a gift Sunday.

    The health minister disclosed the information during a programme at the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases in Dhaka.

    “The recent revelation of vaccine prices has created some issues. We have to maintain non-disclosure clauses strictly according to the deal,” he said.

    The minister did not disclose the date of the deal, the price or quantity of doses.

    On 27 May, the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase approved a proposal to buy 15 million doses of the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine.

    During a briefing right after the meeting, a Cabinet Division official told reporters the authorities would purchase the vaccine at $10 per dose. The price disclosure created some confusion, as Beijing had said that Bangladesh would have to pay $15 per dose to buy the vaccine.
    Health Service Division secretary Lokman Hossain Mia said: “Bangladesh will receive a second consignment of Covid-19 vaccines from China as a gift [Sunday].”

    According to an Inter Services Public Relations Directorate (ISPR) press release, two Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) aircraft left Bangladesh for China to bring back the doses last night.

    Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport Executive Director Group Captain AHM Touhid-ul Ahsan said the two C-130J aircraft were set to return at around 5:30pm Sunday.

    HSD Secretary Lokman said a new vaccine plan would be made once the second consignment from China arrived.

    The first gifted consignment of 500,000 doses was handed over on May 12.

    Bangladesh started its nationwide Covid-19 vaccination program on February 7 by administering Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII).

    The country received seven million Covishield doses through a contract. Besides, India gave Bangladesh 3.3 million vaccines as a gift.

    On April 25, the government suspended administering the first doses with Covishield, just a day after India said no more vaccine doses would be shipped to Bangladesh anytime soon. As SII had been unable to provide the number of doses they promised, many people were waiting for second jabs after receiving their first.

    The health authorities administered the Sinopharm vaccine to 500 medical college students on May 25.

    Additionally, Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) administered the Sinopharm vaccine to over 450 Chinese citizens.

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