Dhaka, Jan 27 (PTI) Bangladesh on Wednesday launched its nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive with AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine Covishield, a week after the first vaccines were delivered by India.
Calling it a 'historic day' for Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the vaccination campaign virtually from her residence and a nurse of state-run Kurmitola General Hospital (KGH), Runu Veronica Costa, became the first to receive the shot.
'You are not frightened, are you?' Hasina said as a medical official prepared to vaccinate her at the state-run health facility, which was one of the first designated COVID hospitals in the country.
Costa in response showed a negative gesture, earning the premier's appreciation who commented 'a brave girl'.
'Many greetings to you, stay healthy and serve many more patients,' Hasina said.
“We want protection of all from the coronavirus. I want to say to you all to work with sincerity to make the COVID-19 vaccination a success. We want cooperation from all as everything will go well to this end,” Hasina said in her inaugural comments.
She said the vaccination programme was initiated strictly following World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and protocols while Bangladesh appeared as one of forerunner countries to launch the inoculation campaign.
“Many countries of the world are yet to start the vaccination. But, we have started it despite a country of vast population and limited resources,” Hasina said.
Bangladesh on January 21 received as gift from India two million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine manufactured under license by the Serum Institute of India.
The first consignment of 50 lakh doses of Covishield purchased by the government landed in Dhaka on January 25.
The total vaccine doses in the country stand at seven million now.
Officials said over 20 people, including doctors, nurses, health workers, members of law enforcement agencies and armed forces and journalists, were inculcated on the first day of the drive.
According to Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), 500 to 600 medical professionals of five hospitals in Dhaka would be get the vaccines ahead of launching the countrywide inoculation drive.
Officials familiar with the process said the vaccine receivers would be kept under medical observation for seven days, a timeline which would be followed by the nationwide vaccination campaign on February 7.
A priority list of recipients has been prepared with officials saying they included 452,027 government health workers and approved 600,000 private health workers who were directly engaged in the COVID-19 health services.
The other priority groups includes 210,000 freedom fighters, frontline law enforcement agency members, the military and civil defence forces, employees working in the offices, indispensable for governing the state.
The premier earlier in the day unveiled the detailed vaccine roll-out plan in Parliament, saying “in the first phase of vaccine distribution, a total of 1.50 crore people (8.86 per cent of population) will get two doses of inoculation over a span of two weeks”.
She said Bangladesh would get 6.80 crore vaccines for 20 per cent of its population or 3.40 crore people from the WHO, COVAX facility.
Sheikh Hasina said the vaccine recipient priority list was prepared in line with WHO's Scientific Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) guidelines taking into consideration the Bangladesh context.
Hasina said her government set a target to collect the COVID-19 vaccine since it was ready and they have made a separate allocation of Taka 1,000 crore to save lives.
“I have asked the health ministry to knock every corner across the globe possible to get the COVID-19 vaccines when researchers were going on to develop those,' she said. PTI AR PMS PMS