The expiry dates of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses used to administer the second booster shot have been extended by 70 days, the health authorities said.
The decision was made with the approval of manufacturers Pfizer-BioNTech and the World Health Organisation. The Bangladesh National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group has also approved their use.
There are no issues administering this fourth dose of the vaccine, the Directorate General of Health Services said at a virtual press conference on Sunday, reports bdnews24.com.
The DGHS rolled out the second booster dose across the country on Dec 20. The Pfizer vaccine has been used for the fourth dose.
The immunisation programme sent instructions about the extension of the expiry date across the country on Dec 20.
The expiry dates for the Pfizer shots were extended from Nov 30 to Feb 28 with permission from its manufacturers and the UN’s health agency, according to a letter from Dr Md Shamsul Haque, member secretary of the COVID-19 Vaccine Management Task Force.
Any vials or boxes of the vaccine must be used within 70 days of being mixed, or within 70 days of their date of expiry or whichever comes first, according to the letter.
Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, director general of health services, says that some media outlets had reported that the DGHS were using expired vaccines.
“The issue is sensitive, so we called a press conference to explain,” he said.
There is no confusion over the matter as the manufacturers of the vaccine have been consulted over the issue, said Dr Ahmedul Kabir, additional director general of health services.
“The manufacturers, Pfizer and BioNTech, have sent a letter explaining the date extension. The letter was sent to the proper authorities and approval was received before the DGHS started administering the vaccine. Those media outlets who understand the process gave accurate reports of the situation.”
“Members of the media always support us in our work. We hope that you will promote things that are good for the country and good for society. Coronavirus cases are on the rise around the world once more. Under these circumstances, we must administer the vaccine to everyone to keep them safe.”
Bangladesh launched its COVID vaccination programme on Feb 8, 2021.
As of Tuesday, Bangladesh has administered 149.3 million first vaccine doses, 126.7 million second doses and 64.8 million boosters.