The government has deposited over Tk 6 billion to make an advance payment to Serum Institute of India for the purchase of 30 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine against the coronavirus.
The health directorate has already received the funds from the finance ministry, according to its Director-General Dr ABM Khurshid Alam.
The amount will be credited in advance to Janata Bank and Standard Chartered Bank with Serum Institute providing the bank guarantee.
Serum Institute can withdraw the amount after Bangladesh receives the first consignment of the vaccines. The remainder of the payable amount will be disbursed once the vaccine supply process begins.
“There’ll be a 100 percent guarantee that the government will get back the amount in case they (Serum Institute) fail to supply the vaccines,” said Khurshid Alam.
On Nov 5, Bangladesh signed a deal with the Serum Institute of India for the procurement of 30 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. Accordingly, Serum Institute will supply 5 million doses of the vaccine each month.
The vaccine will cost Bangladesh $5 or about Tk 425 per dose, Health Minister Zahid Maleque has said.
The government has already announced that it will distribute the coronavirus vaccine for free.
“The advance payment is being made to cover the vaccine costs, VAT and other taxes. We’ll wire the amount through a TT (telephonic transfer),” said Khurshid Alam.
"The amount will be deposited to the banks as early as possible, hopefully on Sunday," he said.
Serum Institute has signed a contract with Oxford/AstraZeneca, Gate Foundation and GAVI for producing 1 million doses of the vaccine and distributing it in different countries.
In August, Beximco Pharmaceuticals announced an investment in Serum Institute of India to ensure Bangladesh gets priority access to the COVID-19 vaccines being developed by the Indian drug manufacturer, adding it would be the exclusive supplier in Bangladesh.
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