The health ministry is going to sit next week to decide phase-III clinical trial of a Chinese Covid-19 vaccine, its Secretary Abdul Mannan said.
"There is no decision [on icddr,b's vaccine trial] yet. [We] will sit next week," Mannan said while talking to The Daily Star about the progress and collection of Covid-19 vaccine for Bangladesh after a meeting at the ministry yesterday.
Prof ABM Khurshid Alam, director general of the health directorate, Maj Gen Mahbubur Rahman, DG of the drug administration, Ashadul Bari, chief scientific officer of icddr,b, Ferdoushi Kadri, scientist of icddr,b, among others, attended the meeting.
Meeting insiders said discussions were held on the Covid-19 vaccine and the steps ahead of Bangladesh to get it immediately.
There was "no discussion" regarding the phase-III clinical trial of Chinese vaccine by the icddr,b, they said.
2 WAYS TO GET VACCINE
As a low-income country, Bangladesh will get Covid-19 vaccines from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI).
The second option is bilateral agreements with any inventor company.
Experts say allowing trial of a vaccine may make it easier for the country to get it.
The trial of Chinese vaccine is, however, still uncertain due to "unknown" reasons and is waiting for decision from the government high-ups, sources said.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh has received confirmation from GAVI that it will supply Covid-19 vaccines to the country as soon as it is available in the market, say officials.
"We had sent our expression of interest and the GAVI has accepted it. The GAVI will now decide the protocol to supply us the vaccines in its next board meeting this month," Shamsul Alam, director of the health directorate's maternal nutrition & child healthcare programme, told this newspaper.
Officials said Bangladesh could get the vaccines from GAVI either free of cost or at a low cost and it would be decided by GAVI.
The GAVI will supply vaccines to 92 poor and low-income countries under this management.
Officials said GAVI can supply vaccines in bulk or in ready-to-use form.
The health secretary said his ministry was also discussing with local companies which have vaccine plants to help them if needed.
A meeting will also be held with different local vaccine producers soon, Shamsul told this correspondent. "The ministry called today's [yesterday] meeting and will organise the next meeting."
Speaking at yesterday's meeting via video conference, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said, "The government's aim is to ensure that Bangladesh get the [Covid-19] vaccine when it will be available in the market."
On July 18, Bangladesh Medical Research Council permitted the icddr,b, to run the trial of the Chinese vaccine in seven hospitals.
But the trial became uncertain after the health minister and the secretary said the government would take time to decide on the trial.