The government is awaiting China’s decision on trials of COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac in Bangladesh as Dhaka has already conveyed its decision that it would not co-fund the trials as proposed by Beijing.
‘We’ve decided not to co-fund the vaccine trial as proposed by China,’ said health secretary Abdul Mannan.
He told New Age on Tuesday that the government was yet to get any update about China’s position after informing it of Bangladesh’s decision not to co-fund the trial.
Officials of ICDDR,B, which partnered with Sinovac for conducting the trial, said that they wrote to Sinovac last week about the Bangladesh government’s decision of not sharing the costs of the vaccine trials, seeking the position from Sinovac.
‘We’re waiting for a reply in a short time,’ said an ICDDR,B official preferring to be unnamed.
‘We’ll make a formal announcement after getting the response,’ the official said.
ICDDR,B has gotten into partnership with Sinovac for conducting the phase-3 trial to examine the efficacy and safety of the Chinese vaccine.
ICDDR,B received approval from the Bangladesh Medical Research Council to this effect in July, but the trial process has gone into uncertainty after China sought co-funding for the trial.
Cabinet secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam on Sunday said that a negotiation with China was still going on over the trial.
The trial had been scheduled to begin in September on 4,200 healthcare providers at seven hospitals in Dhaka.
But China wrote to Bangladesh in late September, seeking co-funding for the trial.
Sinovac initiated the development of an inactivated vaccine against COVID-19 named CoronaVac in January and got approval to conduct the phase-1 and phase-2 clinical trials in China, which began in April.
The phase-3 clinical trial to test the efficacy and safety of the vaccine has already been approved by a number of countries, including Brazil, Turkey and Indonesia.
As part of the deal with ICDDR,B, Sinovac agreed to provide Bangladesh with 1.10 lakh vaccines free of cost and a local firm was to get the technology for producing the vaccine locally.
An ICDDR,B official said that they were expecting to have these two agreements sustained if the trial was not finally carried out in Bangladesh.
Currently, 44 COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in the clinical evaluation stage and 154 candidates in the pre-clinical stage across the world, according to the World Health Organisation’s latest report of draft landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccines.
Beside Sinovac, Bangladesh was in contact with a number of entities with vaccine candidates, including from France, India and local firm Globe Biotech.
Officials said that French firm Sanofi came ahead to reach an agreement with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University for the phase-3 trial of their vaccine.
India’s Bharat Biotech also met with the Directorate General of Health Services for analysing the potential trial of their vaccine.
The vaccines of Sanofi and Bharat Biotech are in the clinical trial stage, but Globe Biotech’s vaccine is still in the pre-clinical stage.
Officials concerned here said that they would not make any official comment as part of the agreement with the French and India over the trial.
Globe Biotech has recently concluded its trial on animal and said that they received ‘promising’ results.
Globe Biotech’s head of research and development Asif Mahmud said that they reached an agreement with ICDDR,B for clinical trial and waiting for BMRC’s approval.
Health secretary Abdul Mannan said that many companies were in contact with Bangladesh for vaccine trial and the government wanted to explore the opportunities.
He said that the government allocated funds for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccine, once declared safe and effective globally.
Bangladesh has so far tallied over 4 lakh COVID-19 cases and nearly 6,000 deaths since the first cases were detected in the country in March 8.
The country is still in the stage of ‘community transmission’, a prerequisite for conducting the trial of vaccines.
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