The cabinet committee on national purchases on Thursday approved a health ministry proposal to purchase 30 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India at Tk 1,271.55 crore.
A virtual meeting of the committee, headed by finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, gave the approval.
When asked whether Bangladesh is paying higher prices than that of India to buy the vaccine, Kamal told reporters that health minister Zahid Maleque was the appropriate person to clear the matter.
Based on Serum CEO Adar Poonawalla’s statements, news reports in India said that the company would sell 11 million Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doses to the Indian government for 200 rupees, equivalent to $2.72, a dose and Bangladesh is paying 47 per cent higher than what India is paying.
In a meet-the-reporters event in the capital on Monday, Zahid Maleque said that Bangladesh would get the vaccine from the Serum at the same price the government of India would pay the Serum for the vaccine.
‘Initially, the price of a dose was set at $4 and an extra $1 for Beximco for transporting the vaccine supplies up to the government storage facilities in districts, but the agreement also stipulates that Bangladesh will pay less than $4 a dose if India pays a lower price.
However, Bangladesh will not pay more than $4 if the Serum sells the vaccine to India at a price higher than $4, the minister said.
Transparency International Bangladesh executive director Iftekharuzzaman on Thursday said that the government should immediately make the price of each dose of the vaccine public.
He said that the government should ensure maximum transparency at all stages of procurement and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to check corruption, confusion and controversy.
Cabinet Division additional secretary Abu Saleh Mostafa Kamal while briefing reporters on the outcome of the cabinet committee meeting expressed his inability to disclose the price of each dose of the vaccine.
According to health ministry proposal submitted to the cabinet committee, each dose of the vaccine would cost $5.
Saleh, however, said that a total of eight proposals — three from the industries ministry, two from the shipping ministry and one each from the health ministry, the road transport and highway division and the housing and public works ministry — were approved in the meeting.
Among other proposals, the committee approved two proposals for purchase of 30,000 tonnes of bagged granular urea each from Karnaphuli Fertiliser Company Limited at Tk 66.29 crore for the Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation.
It also approved import of 25,000 tonnes of bulk prilled urea (optional) from BASIC Industries Corporation of Saudi Arabia at Tk 56.1 crore for the Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation under a government-to-government deal.
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