Bangladesh has not yet signed a formal agreement with Russia to jointly produce a coronavirus vaccine. Russia has signed a “confidentiality” agreement that will only provide information on clinical trials and other information about Ticker.
The agreement was signed last Thursday between the Health Services Department of the Ministry of Health and the management company of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). According to the agreement, Bangladesh will not be able to disclose any confidential information to third parties. Clinical data and related data and the contents of the contract are referred to as confidential information. The Department of Health Services signed the agreement and sent it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told reporters at his residence on Thursday that Bangladesh had signed an agreement with Russia to jointly produce a coronavirus vaccine. The agreement has been reached on co-production at the state level.
It is not clear whether Russia will give vaccine or vaccine production formula to Bangladesh under the confidentiality agreement or not. The officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health were contacted on their mobile phones, text messages and e-mails on Saturday but no response was received. He did not comment when asked about the Russian vaccine while talking to Health Secretary Lokman Hossain Miah on his mobile phone last night.
Bangladesh has three options to get vaccinated from Russia. One. Buy ticker doses directly commercially. Two. Imported in bulk (huge quantity) and bottled as a dose in the country. Three. Produced jointly with Russia in the country.
A senior health official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Prothom Alo that progress on the agreement with any country would be made only after receiving recommendations from the core committee on the source and procurement of Covid-19 vaccine. The committee is scheduled to give its opinion on Monday. The official added that what has happened with Russia is just a framework. There is no agreement on whether Russia will vaccinate or not.
Last week, the government took steps to get the vaccine from Russia, China and the United States amid uncertainty over the corona vaccine from India. On April 19, the Ministry of Health formed an eight-member Core Committee on Sources and Procurement of Covid-19 Vaccines to review the proposals of different countries and make recommendations with their views. The first meeting of the committee was held last Wednesday. During the discussion of this meeting, it came up that the stock of vaccines in the country will be exhausted by May 15.
At the meeting, the committee members gave a positive opinion on the testing of Moderna in the United States, Sputnik-V in Russia and China Sinofarm International Corporation in China in preparation for the vaccine import. Earlier, the Secretary of the Department of Health Services was given information about the companies capable of importing and producing Russian vaccines.
Efforts were already underway to get the vaccine from Russia. The Ambassador of Bangladesh held a meeting with the concerned Russian organization in Moscow on the issue. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in correspondence with the Department of Health Services. In a letter dated April 12, Foreign Secretary Masud bin Momen told the Department of Health that Russia wanted to know some information about the Sputnik-V vaccine being sent to Bangladesh, its production and use in that country. Among these were the demand for vaccines in Bangladesh and which companies are capable of producing them.
We are in a sensitive situation at the time of this epidemic. We are looking for different sources, including Russia, especially as vaccination from India is uncertain. In such a sensitive situation, it is advisable to comment a little more carefully and restrainedly on the ongoing bargaining.
Former Foreign Secretary. Touhid Hossain
Director General of the Department of Drug Administration, Major General. Mahbubur Rahman sent the name of the possible organization to the health service department on 13 April. According to them, pharmaceutical companies Incepta Limited Pharmaceuticals, Popular Pharmaceuticals and Health Care Pharmaceuticals will be able to produce vaccines in Bangladesh. These companies have the production infrastructure and necessary facilities. They will be able to go into production of the Sputnik-V vaccine in one to two months through technology transfer. In addition, Beximco Pharmaceuticals, Renata Limited and Acme Pharmaceuticals are able to set up the necessary infrastructure for vaccine production. It will take them about a year to prepare the infrastructure.
On April 20, Foreign Secretary Masood bin Momen sent an urgent letter to Health Secretary Lokman Hossain Mia. He wrote that Russia has shown interest in vaccinating Bangladesh with 4 million doses from May to August, 20 million doses from September to December and 36 million doses from January to April 2022. The Ambassador of Bangladesh has been asked to take necessary steps to get information about the vaccine and to reach an agreement.
Then last Thursday, Foreign Minister Abdul Momen informed about the agreement of joint production of Ticker with Russia. Meanwhile, an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who did not want to be named, told Prothom Alo that Bangladesh has three options to get the vaccine from Russia. One. Buy ticker doses directly commercially. Two. Imported in bulk (huge quantity) and bottled as dose in the country. Three. Produced jointly with Russia in the country. The official added that whichever option Bangladesh chooses, a confidentiality agreement must be reached first. That is what has been done.
The people of Bangladesh started getting corona vaccine before many countries of the world.