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We welcome MoU with China for vaccine coproduction

A media report on Monday said China and Incepta Pharmaceutical Ltd, – Bangladesh’s leading private pharmaceutical company – signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Dhaka on co-production and marketing of Chinese Sinopharm vaccine in the country. We welcome the move and would like to say that it would have been better if the deal was done earlier. But the good thing is that barrier to cooperation involving China in the fight against Covid-19 has been overcome.

We know that a Bangladesh-China initiative for trial of Sinopharm vaccine in Bangladesh did not materialise and instead an agreement was signed with India’s Serum Institute to buy the Astra-Zeneca vaccine with advance booking against cash payment. But Serum Institute stopped delivery of the vaccine after sending about 7.5 million doses including gift samples citing India was running short of supply. Over the past several months Dhaka ran from door to door to buy vaccines at higher costs when the much needed mass vaccination programme in the country remained suspended for some time.

Under the agreement with Sinopharm, Bangladesh will bring in the Chinese produced vaccine in bulk and its bottling, labeling and marketing will be done here locally. It will help the country not only to end uncertainty about supply of vaccine but its export may also be possible in future. We know that the administration earlier thwarted such a move by the Gonoshastya Kendra but at this point we feel relieved that such a joint venture has been initiated. Certain quarters leaked the Chinese government offer to the press about the vaccine deal to create confusions. A reporter who was investigating the government vaccine procurement plans was detained and sent to jail.
China has so far provided 2.1 million doses of Sinopharm vaccine as a gift to Bangladesh, 3.4 million doses at low costs and 8 million doses under large-scale commercial procurement plan. Incepta Pharma is a private pharmaceutical company and we would have been more happy had such a deal been signed between two governments. Private parties always give more weight age to profit but we hope in this case the people would get this vaccine at a low cost.

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