Bangladesh Health Ministry recently refused to co-finance the clinical trials of an experimental Chinese COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech, making it uncertain. Back in September, the Chinese drugmaker had said that the trial of the vaccine would be delayed unless the government provided funds, although the company was supposed to bear the costs as per agreement.
In response to Sinovac Biotech’s letter, Bangladesh Health Ministry said that the company should run the trial with their own money because that is what they said they would do when they had sought approval. Health Minister Zahid Maleque said that Sinovac biotech was given permission because they agreed to run the vaccine trial with their own money.
Maleque added, “A country's job is done when it approves the clinical test of a vaccine. They never asked for co-funding when they sought approval for the trial. This is not a contract we have with the Chinese government. This is a private company and we cannot have a co-funding (arrangement) with a private company”.
According to ANI, around Taka 60 crore was the expenditure for conducting the trial on 4,200 volunteers. Maleque emphasised that Bangladesh will get the Sinovac vaccine, even if the trial does not go ahead as planned. He said that the country can but the vaccine if it is approved. He added that Sinovac will work with the WHO and they will provide different countries with the vaccine, hence, Bangladesh will also get it. Maleque added that the country will also get early access to the vaccine and it will collaborate with India on developing it.
Earlier this week, Bangladesh had said that the country will only be accepting the WHO-approved coronavirus vaccine. Bangladesh is in touch with all the countries and organisations that are trying to develop the vaccine. Cabinet Secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam had informed that the country is also hoping to get the vaccine on priority bases for which the government has already set aside Tk 600 crore.
Further speaking about Bangladesh hoping to get COVID-19 vaccine on priority he said that Bangladesh is eligible for the same under the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI) whose meeting was addressed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. He added that multiple pharmaceutical companies are in discussions with different vaccine producers for commercial production of the vaccine.