Bangladesh has resumed its coronavirus vaccination drive by administering doses of the Sinopharm vaccine gifted by China. The government opened the second stage of the campaign on Saturday by vaccinating students from medical colleges, reports bdnews24.com.
Sixty-seven centres across the country are administering the vaccines, four in the Dhaka metropolitan area and one each in the remaining 63 districts.
Students from Suhrawardy Medical College and the private Ibn Sina Medical College will receive the vaccine on Saturday.
“For today we’re just administering vaccines to students from these two institutions. About 400 students will receive the vaccines at our two booths,” said Dr Md Khalilur Rahman, director of Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital.
The centres at Dhaka Medical College Hospital will administer vaccines to their own students as well as two other private medical colleges, said DMCH Director Brig Gen Nazmul Haque.
“According to the lists we have received, about 300 medical students will receive the vaccine here. We are following these lists and so we don’t have permission to give the vaccine to the general population yet. We will once we have approval.”
A decision has yet to be made whether these vaccines will be given to regular citizens, Dr Md Shamsul Haque, a line director at the Directorate General of Health Services told bdnews24.com on Saturday. Medical students have been given preference in the latest lists because they will be on the frontlines of the fight against the pandemic.
“Those districts that do not have a medical college will administer their doses to nurses, midwives or health technologists,” he said. “We will only give the vaccine to students involved in the health sector for the next three to four days.”
“There is a possibility of creating confusion if we approve the vaccines for the general population. That is why we plan to finish administering them to medical students first before making them available to the public.”
About 1.1 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine have arrived in Bangladesh, which can fully vaccinate about 550,000 people.
DMC fifth-year student Ananya Salam Samata was the first to receive the Sinopharm vaccine after it first arrived in Dhaka on May 25. Another 600,000 doses arrived later.
Bangladesh first began its coronavirus vaccination campaign on Feb 7 by administering the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines made by the Serum Institute of India.
The institution made an agreement with Bangladesh to provide 30 million doses, but has only been able to provide 7 million in two shipments.
After that, India halted vaccine exports, disrupting Bangladesh’s plans and forcing the government to suspend the vaccination drive on Apr 25. The government was only administering the second doses to completely vaccinate those who had already taken the first, but soon found the shots in short supply.
The DGHS plans to resume the nationwide vaccination campaign after it has received the shipments of the Sinopharm vaccine.
The government also has 100,000 doses of the Covax coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer.