Bangladesh is the top recipient of vaccines under the Covax facility among all the low- and middle-income countries due to effective vaccine diplomacy, health experts said.
Besides, Bangladesh has a good track record of vaccine utilisation which also contributed to getting more vaccines under Covax.
Top Covax donor-funded dose recipients are Bangladesh 133.06 million, Indonesia 87.95 million, Pakistan 77.16 million, Philippines 65.14 million, Nigeria 60.07 million, Egypt 54.22 million, Vietnam 49.61 million, Uganda 30.92 million, Nepal 22.93 million and Ethiopia 22.46 million.
Overall, some 9.8 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered around the world. Covax jabs account for 82% of injections in the 91 poorest economies.
Professor Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora, chair of the Covid-19 Vaccine Management Taskforce Committee of the Directorate General of the Health Services told The Business Standard that the whole team of the government worked jointly to get the Covid-19 vaccines.
"When we faced a vaccine shortage, all the missions of the government, health and foreign ministry along with other ministries started negotiations to arrange Covid vaccine which is now coming under Covax facilities. No single person should be given credit," she said.
In Bangladesh, 9.24 crore people have received the first dose of coronavirus vaccine, 5.83 crore people received two doses and 10 lakh people got booster doses till Saturday.
The inoculation programme faced a hiccup only after a few months in the beginning due to a shortage of vaccines. But Bangladesh now has adequate vaccine stock overcoming that situation.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque Friday said at a press briefing that the government has a stock of nine crore doses of vaccines. The government will administer vaccines to 70% of its population or 12 crores as per the target.
People now are more interested than before to take Covid jabs and the government's campaign for the special vaccination programme bore results. There is a record of administering 70 lakh doses in a single day through the special campaign.
Professor Meerjady Sabrina Flora, also additional director general (planning and development) of DGHS, said that Covax vaccines are given to the countries based on the utilisation rate. Bangladesh has done well in vaccine utilisation, which is also a reason for getting more vaccines.
Dr ASM Alamgir, Principal Scientific Officer of the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) told TBS that Covax has a target to vaccinate at least 20% of the population of the member states. But Bangladesh would get vaccines for 40% of its population as the vaccination rate is good.
But Bangladesh has not yet received the total vaccine consignment for its 20% population which was supposed to reach here by December last year, he said, adding: the volume of donation we received is higher than other countries. The Covax vaccines which arrive in future would be used for booster doses.
Covax collects vaccines by procuring at a low price or through donation.
Echoing Professor Sabrina and Dr Alamgir, noted Virologist and Member of the National Technical Advisory Committee On Covid-19 Professor Nazrul Islam said that Bangladesh has fared well in getting Covax vaccines. But the authorities should be careful about vaccine management so that the wastage is minimal.
"The elderly persons should be brought under vaccination on a priority basis. The process of people's access to vaccines should be made easier," he suggested.
Bangladesh received the first consignment of 1.06 lakh doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine under Covax in June last year followed by Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson.
Professor Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora said that the target might be changed if necessary.
"On Sunday there was a meeting with Covax on vaccines. Whenever the World Health Organisation will allow vaccines for children under 12 years, we will start that along with the booster dose programme," she said.
Bangladesh has collected 24 crores 14 lakh doses of vaccines through procuring, donation and gifts.