Bangladesh approves Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 shot; says Sinopharm pending

DHAKA, April 27 (Reuters) - Bangladesh’s drug regulator on Tuesday approved the Russian Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use against COVID-19, signalling that clearance for China’s Sinopharm shot would follow very soon as a supply line from India falters.

Dhaka, facing a second wave of the pandemic, is racing to secure more vaccines after its bigger neighbour halted exports of the AstraZeneca -Oxford University shot in response to a record surge in domestic infections.

Announcing approval for Sputnik V, Directorate General of Drug Administration head Mahbubur Rahman told reporters: “Hopefully we’ll get 4 million doses of Russian vaccine by May.”

Bangladesh could also approve Sinopharm in coming days, he added.

Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen said earlier that Russia had proposed manufacturing Sputnik V in Bangladesh, as Moscow seeks to increase production globally to meet rising demand for a shot already approved for use in more than 50 countries.

Bangladesh, a country of 170 million has been relying on the AstraZeneca vaccine so far, and around 6 million of it citizens have been inoculated.

This week its stopped administered first doses, however, amid uncertainty over when shipments from India would resume.

Bangladesh has an agreement with the Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, for 30 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine but has received only 7 million so far.

Bangladesh on Monday sealed its border with India for 14 days, though trade will continue. Air travel has been suspended since April 14, when Bangladesh imposed a strict lockdown which it extended for a week on Tuesday.

The country’s second wave peaked around three weeks ago. Since then, daily infections have fallen by more than half, with 3,031 new cases reported on Tuesday as well as 78 coronavirus-linked fatalities.

Total deaths stand at 11,228 and cases at 751,659.

India has also gifted its neighbour 3.2 million doses of the AstraZeneca shot, which Serum had been producing for many countries. (Reporting by Ruma Paul; editing by John Stonestreet)