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According to the agreement, the raw materials and bulk ingredients will be brought in from China in a semi-finished state. The bottling, labeling and finishing will be carried out by Incepta Pharmaceuticals.

Incepta hopes they will be able to go into production within three months. At the signing of the agreement, health minister Zahid Maleque said, "We will need 260 million (26 crore vaccines) to vaccinate at least 130 million (13 crore) people. But it will take a long time to bring in so many vaccines. So this initiative for joint production within the country, now it will be easy to ensure vaccinations for all in the country."

Earlier, initiative had been taken with Russia for joint vaccine manufacture, but that has not come into effect.

The agreement has been signed to manufacture 60 million (6 crore) doses initially, but the minister maintains that 260 million (26 crore) vaccines will be required. Bangladesh has so far received 31 million (3 crore 10 lakh) vaccine doses from India, China and COVAX, which is nowhere near our requirements. With this shortfall in vaccine, the government this month had to finish its week-long vaccine drive within a day.

Vaccine manufacture should commence as soon as possible. After that there must be proper arrangements for the storage and the distribution of the vaccine

The three factors for tackling coronavirus are restrictions, health guidelines and the vaccine. The government has repeatedly enforced restrictions, but to no avail. It has not been possible to effectively enforce the health guidelines either. And so the obvious fact is that vaccines are the only answer.

We have already seen the dire consequences of relying on only one source for the vaccine. And so in no way would it be wise to depend on a single source for either vaccine manufacture or import.

Vaccine manufacture should commence as soon as possible. After that there must be proper arrangements for the storage and the distribution of the vaccine. The recent chaos that ensured during the mass vaccine programme must not be repeated.

We have had laudable success in the past in our immunisation drives. Even during the pandemic, 35 million (3.5 crore) children were vaccinated under the Expanded Programme for Immunisation. So why has there been such disorder in the coronavirus vaccination drive?

According to the health ministry, the locally manufactured vaccine will be available at a relatively lower cost. This will give us scope to bargain when importing the vaccine. The government and the people must realise that that even the free vaccine does not come free of cost.

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