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Work on to produce vaccine in country

* Govt plans to manufacture mRNA jab
* Corona vaccine plant to be set up in Gopalganj

The government has already started necessary work to produce coronavirus vaccine locally in a bid to make the jab permanently available for the country’s people.

Apart from producing the Covid-19 vaccine in the country bringing technology of any vaccine, it is also working to go for coproduction of vaccines here, sources at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.

“A high-powered committee, led by Health and Family Welfare Minister (Zahid Maleque), has started working to produce the vaccine here. A meeting of the committee has already been held,” Prof Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, director general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told the Daily Sun.

He said the Essential Drugs Company Limited (EDCL), the only state-owned pharmaceutical company in Bangladesh, will manufacture the vaccine through setting up a manufacturing plant.
“The Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing plant will be set up in Gopalganj. The land acquisition process has started to set up the plant,” the DGHS chief added.

He said the government has planned to produce protein-based Covid-19 vaccine in the plant.

Prof Dr Ehsanul Kabir, EDCL managing director, has recently said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave necessary directives to produce the coronavirus vaccine in the country. “We planned to set up a plant in Gopalganj, where another project of the EDCL is underway, to produce the Covid-19 vaccine.”

“We’re thinking about manufacturing a Messenger RNA (mRNA) Covid-19 vaccine here,” a member of the vaccine manufacturing planning committee, told the Daily Sun wishing not to be named.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Presentation (CDC), mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. The mRNA vaccines teach body cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside the bodies.

“The benefit of mRNA vaccines, like all vaccines, is those vaccinated gain protection without ever having to risk the serious consequences of getting sick with Covid-19,” it added.

Meanwhile, the DGHS sources said the Bangladesh government and private pharmaceutical companies may also go for coproduction of the Covid-19 vaccines here.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on July 24 said Bangladesh would go for coproduction of Covid-19 vaccines soon. “A process has already started to produce jabs locally,” he told reporters after receiving the first consignment of 245,200 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from Japan at the airport in Dhaka.

Mentioning that China has already showed interest for producing jabs in Bangladesh, he said, “We’ve already received some documents from China in this regard and the documents have been sent to the departments concerned. Coproduction of the vaccines would start soon.”

Dr Momen said the countries that went for coproduction of vaccines are doing well.

Earlier, talking to reporters at his residence in the capital, the foreign minister on July 19 said Russia agreed to go into coproduction of its Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in Bangladesh apart from exporting the jabs. “Things are at the final stage. Russia agreed on coproduction in bottling and finishing the vaccine.”

He, however, said Moscow will not share the vaccine-making technology until other countries do it.

“Incepta Pharmaceuticals Company was also planning to go for coproduction of Chinese vaccine Sinopharm in the country,” Prof Dr ABM Khurshid Alam said.

The health minister on June 26 said the government would set up a vaccine manufacturing plant in Gopalganj soon.

China recently said the Chinese vaccine companies are intensely working with Bangladeshi pharmaceutical companies for the production of Covid-19 vaccines in Bangladesh.

Diplomatic sources in Dhaka and Beijing confirmed that the vaccine production in Bangladesh would hopefully start in the next couple of months.

“Chinese vaccine Research and Development (R&D) companies are working with Bangladeshi partners for future vaccine coproducing in Bangladesh,” Hualong Yan, deputy ambassador of the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka, said recently.

A Bangladeshi diplomat in Beijing said both the Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products (BBIBP) and Sinovac Life Sciences Co. Ltd are interested in producing vaccine with local partners in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) has already given the emergency use authorisation to China’s Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by the Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products (BBIBP) and CoronaVac manufactured by Sinovac Life Sciences Co. Ltd.

The Bangladesh government permitted a vaccine candidate developed by the Institute of Medical Biology of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (IMBCAMS) to carry out its phase-III trial here.