Thursday, January 21, 2021 | ePaper

We bought vaccine at a cost 47pc higher yet uncertain to get

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THE Bangladesh government has bought the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from Serum Institute of India at a price 47 per cent higher than that the Indian government has paid. Bangladesh has paid $4 per vaccine but India paid $2.72 for each dose, according to Indian media report and Bangladesh officials also confirmed it.
Health rights campaigners have questioned the vaccine procurement deal that the Bangladesh government has signed with India at almost twice as much cost asking why we agreed to pay so much.  Why India forced upon us higher price or otherwise we agreed to higher cost. Life-saving medicine can't be dictated by profit motive and particularly such discrimination or price difference with India can't be acceptable as a supplier.  As a result Bangladesh is paying $38.4 million more and moreover, one extra dollar to be paid to Beximco for being a third party to the deal.  
Evidently it will only make the drug further expensive to patients. Why the deal was not a government to government deal to save cost is the big question. People are vaccinated free of cost in the USA and European countries as a basic government support to people. Why we can't make it free to our poor who are apparently unable to buy from market which traders may now sell at exorbitant price without price regulation or making supply unhindered.  We are afraid it is going to be pricier to people in critical condition.  
It may not be difficult to many to understand the involvement of Beximco as a third party in the deal. The deal has given an undue advantage of earning extra money by the company owned by a powerful government leader. In fact many have reason to believe the deal is highly marred with corruption and unethical as well. It lacks transparency and accountability to make sure that public interest was not traded for private interest.  
We must say procurement of Covid-19 vaccine can't be treated as a business. It must be free of cost to the poor while nobody to be allowed to control its supply to ask higher price. The government should not shelter its cronies to play foul with the supply.

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