by Nadeem Qadir in Dhaka
Three more companies are waiting to come to the market with their anti-COVID-19 vaccines to help boost prevention from the deadly bug in Bangladesh, which completed inoculating more than 100, 000 people since the launch the nationwide programme on 7 February, but are faced with delays, business sources said on Tuesday.
The sources said they have been waiting for months to get clearance from the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) and it should be expedited to save more lives the country, where the virus is apparently under control with both low cases of new infections and deaths.
The BMRC has been tasked by the government to ensure only suitable vaccines are allowed into the country.
Dr. Syed Modassar Ali, the BMRC Chairman, told this correspondent in Tuesday “We are not rushing through to approve new vaccines as we had done during the emergency situation and it takes time to cross three stages.”
He said the maximum time is spent with the “Ethical Review Committee” and vaccine is a sensitive matter which needs caution to ensure safety of the people. “The Committe members are four eminent people and who raise relevant questions, which needs o be answered … thus it is taking time.”
“All concerned must understand that we have a procedure to follow before giving the ethical certificate as we are dealing with human lives … so none can give a time-frame about when they will get the clearance,” said Dr. Ali.
Two Bangladeshi companies are waiting to get the Ethical Certificate for vaccines from China and India, while the third is Globe Biotech, which is so far the only Bangladeshi compnay seeking the crucial certificate to come to the market.
One importer of vaccine waiting for the permission told this correspondent that “the process should be expedited as tests have already proven success of similar vaccines,” adding that the earlier more people will be vaccinated, the safer will be Bangladesh.
The business sources hinted that they were upset as they had no idea when they will be able to come to the market or “what will be the eventual fate after a lengthy excercise to reach an agreement from the company producing the vaccine.”
He said “some indications must be communicated to them immediately.“
The campaign has been launched from 1,005 public health facilities across the country.
At the inauguration ceremony in the capital, the minister assured that the vaccine produced by Oxford-AstraZeneca of which Bangladesh has received 7 million doses, is safe. India’s Serum institute, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, is producing the jab under license.
More than 328,000 people have registered to get vaccinated, according to the Directorate General of Health Services.
Bangladesh has registered more than 537,770 coronavirus cases, including 8,200 related deaths. Over 3.7 million people have been tested.