An employee in personal protective equipment (PPE) removes vials of AstraZeneca's COVISHIELD, coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine from a visual inspection machine inside a lab at Serum Institute of India, in Pune, India, on 30 November 2020
An employee in personal protective equipment (PPE) removes vials of AstraZeneca's COVISHIELD, coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine from a visual inspection machine inside a lab at Serum Institute of India, in Pune, India, on 30 November 2020Reuters

Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Zafrullah Chowdhury has raised questions on why Bangladesh will pay more money than India to get the COVID-19 vaccine from Serum Institute in India.

“India is getting COVID-19 vaccine at $2 per does, for what we are spending $5.25,” he said.

He raised question on who is pocketing the extra amount of the money.

The Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder made the remarks at a human chain in front of the National Press Club in the capital on Monday.

The human chain was organised protesting at the rape of a student by the principal of Meherunnesa School in Pangashia union of Patuakhali’s Dumki upazila and demanding punishment to the rapist. Muktijuddher Chetona Bastobayon Parishad organised the protest programmne.

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Zafrullah Chowdhury said Bangladesh is giving Tk 600 crore (6 billion) to the Serum Institute of India, but if world’s top 10 scientists were hired at a salary of Tk 1 crore (10 million) per month, it would have cost the country only Tk 120 crore (1.2 billion) in a year. More scientists would have been created here. And, it is certain that vaccine would have been developed within a year.

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He said if local company, Globe Biotech, was given a subsidy of Tk 50 crore (500 million) they could work with the local scientists. There are more companies too and Bangladesh could have developed the vaccine at its own financing.

Earlier, on Monday, speaking to Prothom Alo, health care division secretary Abdul Mannan said the agreement signed with Serum Institute to get COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford is a G2G agreement.

“The agreement says we’ll begin vaccination when India will begin. We’ll get that whenever India will get. We’ll buy the vaccine at the price India will buy. If they can’t give us that, they will have to return the money. There are many other stringent clauses in the agreement,” the secretary further said.