The coronavirus vaccine developed by the UK’s University of Oxford and drugmaker AstraZeneca will cost Bangladesh $5 or about Tk 425 per dose, Health Minister Zahid Maleque has said.
The figure includes a price of $4 for each shot and other costs, he told reporters at an event in Manikganj on Saturday.
“All other vaccines are pricier than this. China has asked more than $20 for some vaccines, while Pfizer’s vaccine has been priced between $30 and $38,” he said.
The government had earlier said it would give the shots for free, prioritising the frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19.
Bangladesh will wire funds to India for the vaccine this week, he added. Bangladesh has signed a deal with the Serum Institute of India for 30 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
After the UK authorised the vaccine on Wednesday, India’s drug regulator on Friday approved the vaccine for emergency use. It is the first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for emergency use by India, which has the highest number of infections after the United States.
Zahid Maleque said the World Health Organization is set to approve the vaccine in a few days. “We are ready to receive the vaccine.”
He had previously said that the government expects the first shots to arrive at the end of January or early February. “If everything goes alright, we will get the vaccine earlier in January,” he said on Saturday.
He said 60-65 million Bangladeshis, including adolescents, pregnant women and those living abroad, do not need the vaccine now.
With 68 million more doses from the global vaccine alliance GAVI under the WHO-led COVAX programme, Bangladesh expects to inoculate 55 million people of its 160 million- strong population.
“We need to immunise 45 million more people. We are trying to bring the doses for them,” the health minister said.
“We will need more vaccines if we want to vaccinate all. We are taking step for this. The government is thinking about placing the orders now. The vaccines can be from Oxford/AstraZeneca or any other source.”