The government has signed a deal to procure the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine from China, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said on Saturday.
He, however, did not disclose anything more on the issue – such as the date of the deal and the price of the doses.
"The recent revelation of the vaccine price has created some issues. We have to maintain non-disclosure matters strictly," the health minister said while speaking at a programme in the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases.
On 27 May this year, the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase approved a proposal for buying 1.5 crore doses of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine.
Right after the meeting, a Cabinet Division official told reporters at a briefing that the government would purchase the vaccine at $10 per dose. The price disclosure created confusion a week before the signing of the final deal for the vaccine.
In the interest of trade, China had earlier said that prices should not be disclosed under any circumstances as they are supplying vaccines to different countries of the world at different prices.
Sinopharm agreed to provide vaccines for $10 per dose because of good bilateral relations between China and Bangladesh, according to sources.
Sri Lanka was the first country that raised its voice after the news broke in the Bangladeshi media, as the country has to pay $15 to buy each dose of the same vaccine.
China has already issued a diplomatic letter to Bangladesh asking why the price was disclosed even after Bangladesh had been informed earlier that the supplier would suffer commercial losses if prices are revealed. China in its letter said its fears have come true, as many countries have already objected to them about vaccine prices.
Beijing has already said Bangladesh will have to pay $15 per dose to buy the vaccine now.
China on May 12 handed over five lakh doses of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine to Bangladesh as a gift, while additional 6 lakh doses of the vaccine are scheduled for reaching Bangladesh on Sunday, according to the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka.
Hualong Yan, deputy chief of mission, Embassy of China in Bangladesh, confirmed the matter in his Facebook post on Friday.
"600,000 gift vaccines are heading to Beijing International Airport. Arrival in Dhaka: June 13," he wrote.
Moreover, Bangladesh will get some 10.8 lakh doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine soon under the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) facility. The country has been suffering an acute crisis of the AstraZeneca vaccine, as around 15 lakh people are waiting for the second dose of the vaccine.
But, even with the doses, there will still be a shortage of about five lakh of doses Covid-19 vaccine. If these doses are not arranged in time, some five lakh people's first dose will prove to be ineffective.
The government is trying to solve the crisis as soon as possible, said Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen while briefing the media on several occasions recently.