Another source from health ministry said the letter from the foreign secretary mentioned that the Russian ambassador to Bangladesh is in talks with the authorities of Management Company of Russia Direct Investment (RDIF) regarding the importation, production and use of Sputnik V vaccine. After the final supply agreement is signed between the two countries, it will be sent to the Russian authorities by ambassador Alexander Ignatov.

On the basis of this, RIDF will order the vaccine developing organisation to produce vaccine. Usually, it is possible to prepare the first consignment of 10,000 to 15,000 doses within a month of signing the deal. The amount of vaccine would be increased gradually.

We've urged the health ministry to take quick steps. They stall every document sent to them, and it is true for every aspect
AK Abdul Momen, Foreign minister

Bangladesh will have to go through a few more steps before getting the Russian vaccine. One of the major steps is advance payment. It would take a few more days too, said health ministry officials.

The Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) approved the use of Sputnik V in the country on 27 April. This vaccine is being used in more than 60 countries.

The government is planning to procure the Russian vaccines with the money from the World Bank. A project named “Covid-19 Emergency Response and Pandemic Preparedness,” financed by the World Bank, is underway in the country under the Directorate general of Health Services (DGHS).

Director of this project, Azizur Rahman Siddiqui told Prothom Alo that a total of Tk 67.86 billion (6,786 crore) has been allocated for this project. Among this, Tk 43 billion (4,300 crore) has been allocated for the procurement of vaccines.

“If we get a vaccine proposal, we would send it to the World Bank. There is a committee at the high level of the government for the procurement of vaccines. We have not received any proposal from that committee for the allocation to purchase the Russian vaccine.”

In a letter to the health secretary, the foreign secretary said that the government of Bangladesh has to pay in advance the price of the first consignment of vaccines prepared by Russia. Arrival of vaccines is possible within five to seven days after specification approval and advance payment. RDIF has said that it will be possible to supply one million (10 lakh) doses of vaccine in each consignment.

Given the circumstances, foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen has urged the concerned authorities to sign the supply agreement and take necessary steps on an emergency basis. The foreign minister talked with the prime minister in this regard. However, the supply agreement deal has not been signed till Tuesday night, said a source from the foreign ministry.

The price of Sputnik V vaccine is $10-12 and it is 91.6 per cent effective.

Speaking to Prothom Alo regarding the importation of the coronavirus vaccine from Russia, foreign minister AK Abdul Momen said, “We've urged the health ministry to take quick steps. They stall every document sent to them, and it is true for every aspect. We've accomplished all the arrangements. If they do not sign the agreement quickly, we will miss this chance.”

*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo online and print editions, has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu.

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