Bangladesh Suspends AstraZeneca Vaccination Drive As Covid-19 Cases Surge In India

Bangladesh has decided to suspend administering the first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine amid uncertainty over the timely arrival of shipments from India, an official said.

“The inoculation of the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine will remain suspended from Monday until further notice,” Md Shamsul Haque, an official at the COVID-19 Vaccine Management Taskforce Committee, told Anadolu Agency.

He said the decision was taken due to a stock shortage of the vaccine, but the administration of the second dose will continue as planned. An official notification has also been issued in this regard.

The South Asian country has an agreement with the Serum Institute of India for 30 million doses – 5 million jabs every month from January to June 2021. It has paid for 15 million jabs, but received only 7 million so far. Besides, New Delhi has gifted Dhaka 3 million doses.

India has diverted vaccine supplies for domestic consumption amid a record rise in coronavirus infections and deaths, leading to shortages of oxygen, life-saving drugs and hospital beds.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh closed its border with India, halting all passenger movement for the next 14 days, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told Anadolu Agency.

He said the decision was taken in view of the rapid increase of coronavirus infections in India. The decision will be reviewed after two weeks, he added.

With 2,922 new COVID-19 cases and 101 related deaths, the overall caseload in the country of 165 million has reached 745,322 including 11,053 deaths.

It began its vaccination drive in February. About 5.8 million people have received their first dose, while 2.3 million have been fully vaccinated.

To contain a record rise in infections, the government imposed a nationwide lockdown on April 5, which is in place till April 28.