Update June 3, 2021

Dhaka 5-16 pm, 24-July, 2021

Allocation made to ensure free Covid vaccination for everyone

Mirajul Moin Joy

The government has proposed an allocation of Tk 10,000 crore in the proposed budged for 2021-2022 fiscal year to meet the emergency requirements to respond to the pandemic.

While presenting the budget in the Parliament on Thursday, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said the budget has been prepared keeping in mind the strategies taken to facilitate the recovery in various sectors of Bangladesh from the shocks of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially to meet the challenges arising in the health sector and the vaccine application issue.

He said the global economy has been put at severe risk due to the prolonged effects of the pandemic and its second wave in different countries around the world.

“Allocations have been made in the proposed budget to meet the targets of each ministry and divisions to address the adverse effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccination strategy, management and steps,” he said adding, “The National Deployment and Vaccination Plan has been prepared under the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) to protect the lives of people from the Covid-19.”

The government procured 3 crore doses of Covishield vaccine of Oxford-AstraZeneca from the Serum Institute of India.

In addition, the minister said, 6.80 crore doses of coronavirus vaccine will be available from the Covax facility under the World Health Organization for 20 percent of Bangladesh population, that is for 3.40 crore people. Out of this, 1.06 lakh doses have already been received.

He said there are plans to buy vaccines from the governments of China and Russia, Pfizer Co. from the USA and Sanofi/GSK from France/Belgium.

Negotiations are at the final stage for procuring Sinopharm vaccine from China and Sputnik-V vaccine from Russia, and, if necessary, manufacturing the same in Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, 70 lakh doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine reached Bangladesh, and the governments of India and China gave 32 lakh doses and 5 lakh doses respectively of coronavirus vaccine as gifts.

The World Bank provided US$ 500 million for procuring Covid vaccines and US$ 14.87 million for logistic support.

A loan agreement for US$ 940 million with the ADB to procure vaccines is at the final stage. Alongside, there is a good possibility to receive support for vaccine procurement from the European Investment Bank and AIIB.

Vaccination Plan

The finance minister said plans have been devised to vaccinate 80 percent of people in phases and in the first phase, people with risks will be vaccinated, and 25 lakh vaccines will be given each month.

He said the vaccination programme is being implemented at the field level through coordination between the EPI and the Communication Disease Control (CDC).

The first dose of vaccination in Bangladesh began on February 7 while that of the second dose began on 8 April.

Registration for vaccination and distribution of vaccine certificates and vaccine cards are being done digitally through the surokkha.gov.bd web portal using National ID cards.

Following the recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) of the WHO and the National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) of Bangladesh and considering the reality of our country, people aged 40 or above are given priority in the Covid-19 vaccination programme, who constitute 20 percent of the total population.

The vaccination programme is conducted in 1,005 hospital-based vaccination centres across the country. Up to 31 May 2021, 58,22,157 people received vaccines, of which 36,10,635 are male and 22,11,522 are female.

Out of them, 41,73,930 have completed their second doses. The corona vaccine and logistic cold chain management are handled through the existing EPI in the country and the cold chain system of the Directorate General of Health Services.

To keep the regular vaccination programme uninterrupted, senior staff nurses, assistant community medical officers have been assigned as vaccinators.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has announced that the government will ensure free vaccination for all citizens of the country.

For this, the government will provide as much funds as is required to bear the expenses of procuring the required doses of vaccine, said the finance minister, adding, “We’ll make adequate allocations for this purpose in the budget.”

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