The bottling Covid-19 vaccines in Bangladesh after bulk import from overseas countries will be delayed by at least three months as the health ministry needs more time to make the facility.
The parliamentary committee on the health ministry, in a meeting held at Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban on Wednesday, said it will take nine months to one year to prepare a facility for bottling, labeling and finishing of Covid-19 vaccines.
Earlier in August, the parliamentary body recommended the health ministry take necessary measures for bottling, labeling and finishing of Covid-19 vaccines within six to nine months.
Again, in June this year, the committee recommended production of Covid-19 vaccines by Essential Drugs Company Limited (EDCL), a state-owned pharmaceuticals company, within six months.
Dr Md Abdul Aziz, member of the parliamentary advisory committee, told The Business Standard, "Our target is to go for the production of vaccines between six months to one year. There were some problems in land acquisition for the construction of the facility but it is now over. Yet we need some more time to procure equipment, opening Letter of Credit (LC) and installing a steel-made structure."
The government has taken two plans — short term and long term — for Covid-19 vaccine production locally. The short term one is bottling Covid-19 vaccines in Bangladesh after bulk import of vaccines from overseas countries. The long term one is production of vaccine locally through shifting technologies and conduction clinical trial here after contacting the vaccine producing countries
Emerging from the meeting, committee chairman Sheikh Fazlul Karim told the media that "The Essential Drugs Company has a land in its Gopalganj branch. We can bottle the vaccine there. We will acquire the land for the construction of a vaccine production facility. And we can start bottling the vaccine in one year."
He said, "A project proposal has to be prepared and a consultant has to be appointed for vaccine production locally. Then, we have to choose the countries from which raw materials and equipment to be imported. So we recommend making the facility in one year."
The committee requested the ministry to take measures to avoid the bureaucratic complexity regarding the matter.
The health ministry told the parliamentary committee that the Essential Drugs Company held three video conferences with the US-based company Dyadic to import raw materials of vaccine and technology. A draft memorandum of understanding has been prepared with those organisations.
Discussions are also underway between two sides to produce protein-based Covid vaccine developed by Russia's Sputnik-V and Oxford University.
The ministry further said the cost has been estimated after discussion with various vaccine making equipment production and supplying companies to produce vaccines.