Bangladesh joins global COVID-19 vaccine race with Bangavax set for clinical trial

Bangladeshi public health experts welcomed the development as a positive boost to the country’s COVID-19 response. (AFP)
Bangladeshi public health experts welcomed the development as a positive boost to the country’s COVID-19 response. (AFP)
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Updated 17 June 2021

Bangladesh joins global COVID-19 vaccine race with Bangavax set for clinical trial

Bangladesh joins global COVID-19 vaccine race with Bangavax set for clinical trial
  • Previously called Bancovid, the vaccine has been included in the draft landscape of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

DHAKA: Bangladesh has joined the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine race with the announcement on Thursday by the producer of its Bangavax that clinical trials were due to start next month.
In late December, the country’s Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) permitted Dhaka-based Globe Biotech Ltd., the developer of Bangavax, to produce the country’s first locally made COVID-19 vaccine.
Previously called Bancovid, the vaccine has been included in the draft landscape of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
Asif Mahmud, who is in charge of Globe Biotech’s research, told Arab News: “We are expecting to go for clinical trial by next month.
“We got the permission from the DGDA last week to produce Bangavax for clinical trial. Now we are allowed to import all the raw materials to manufacture the vaccine,” he said, adding that if all went to plan the vaccine would be ready for mass use by the middle of the year. “Bharat Biotech of India also took six months to develop the vaccine at the final stage and I hope we can do the same. We will apply to the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) for ethical permission next week,” Mahmud added.
The company is set to announce the name of the clinical research organization that will conduct the trials.
While the cost of Bangavax doses remains unknown, Mahmud said that being produced locally would make it “definitely cheaper” than the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
“We are using raw materials imported from the US, the UK, and some other Western countries. State-of-the-art technologies will be used in this process. There are many taxes and other regulatory issues which are directly involved with costs,” he said.
Bangladeshi public health experts welcomed the development as a positive boost to the country’s COVID-19 response.
Prof. Muzaherul Huq, former WHO adviser and founder of the Public Health Foundation of Bangladesh, told Arab News: “Definitely the homegrown vaccine will help us a lot. Bangladesh has been producing vaccines for many years. But now we need to increase the capacity to make quality vaccines and here the government has to play a vital role.
“Globe Biotech should maintain close contact with WHO authorities to ensure constant monitoring and supervision which will also help them in the market approval process,” he said.
Prof. Benazir Ahmed, former director of disease control at the Bangladeshi Directorate General of Health Services, also called on the producer to make sure its clinical trials were monitored by international vaccinology experts and organizations in order for the vaccine to gain trust at home and abroad.
“The clinical trial should be of a very high standard. It will open the gateway for production of many more vaccines, both for local use and for a huge external market of vaccines,” Ahmed said.
Bangladesh has so far approved for emergency use only the Covishield vaccine developed by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in collaboration with the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca.
Dhaka has ordered 30 million Covishield doses, of which the first batch of 5 million is expected to arrive from India next month.
There has to date been nearly 520,000 reported cases of COVID-19 in Bangladesh, among a population of around 168 million, and more than 7,700 virus-related deaths.