Beximco Pharmaceuticals Managing Director Nazmul Hassan has said the tripartite agreement with the Serum Institute of India for the supply and distribution of the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine for coronavirus in Bangladesh was a “commercial agreement”, not a “government-to-government” one.
Beximco Pharma is the ‘exclusive distributor’ of the vaccine under the government’s agreement to purchase the drug produced by Serum Institute.
On Monday, Nazmul briefed the media at his residence in Gulshan about the matter amid concerns over reports that India had ‘banned’ the export of the vaccine.
According to the agreement, Bangladesh will get the vaccine ‘at the stipulated time’, he said, adding that there had been no indication of a delay on the part of Serum Institute.
The Bangladesh government entered into an agreement with Seram Institute and Beximco Pharmaceuticals on Nov 5 to buy 30 million doses of the vaccine called ‘Covishield’. As per the deal, Serum Institute will send five million doses of vaccine every month.
Bangladesh’s hopes of receiving the vaccine doses in quick time were boosted after India’s regulators approved the emergency use of the vaccine on Sunday.
However, Serum Institute subsequently said it intends to concentrate on meeting India’s own immediate demand in the next two months before exporting to other interested countries, putting a damper on those hopes.
An international news agency also reported that India “banned” the export of vaccines, which raised fears of a delay in the vaccination process in Bangladesh.
Addressing the issue on Monday, Health Secretary Abdul Mannan said, "I was just on the phone with the deputy high commissioner of India. He told us that the agreement we have made… the financial transaction, how the money will be transferred, how the bank guarantee will operate - all those things have been done on the basis of a G2G or government-to-government agreement. As far as the export ban goes, the Indian government has said it only applies to commercial activities, not on us. Because ours is a government-to-government agreement.”
But Nazmul dismissed out of hand the notion of a ‘G2G’ agreement regarding the Oxford vaccine made by Serum Institute after the secretary’s comments were brought to his attention by reporters.
He replied, “There is no question of G2G here. I don’t know about it. This G2G that the secretary spoke about… I don’t know which vaccine he is talking about. It could be in relation to another vaccine. The government may have an agreement with another company… I don’t know.”
"Beximco Pharma is not the government, neither is Serum Institute. This is quite clear, so how can there be a government-to-government [agreement] here? It’s a tripartite agreement. "
Beximco Pharma spoke to Serum Institute on Monday and they will provide the vaccine shots to Bangladesh in accordance with the agreement, according to Nazmul.