Globe Biotech workers allege assault while catching monkeys to trial COVID vaccine

Globe Biotech workers have alleged assault by locals while catching monkeys in Gazipur’s Sreepur for trial of the Bangavax COVID-19 vaccine developed by the pharmaceutical company.

Published : 4 July 2021, 09:22 PM
Updated : 4 July 2021, 09:22 PM

The police rescued five men from the Bormi Bazar area after the incident on Sunday morning.

The firm sent them to catch the monkeys because it is necessary to trial vaccines on animals before humans. Globe had earlier conducted tests of its vaccine on guinea pigs and rabbits.

The five men who were allegedly assaulted were working on behalf of the company.

They are Global Television Assignment Officer Anisur Rahman, Staff Reporter Rashedul Islam Rashed, cameraman Fahad Al Qadri and two drivers.

Anisur said the locals demanded money from them after they had caught 10 monkeys.

The locals assaulted them and snatched away money and the monkeys when they refused to pay, he alleged.

They did not file a written complaint with the police over the incident. Anisur said they filmed the incident and would take legal steps after consulting company high-ups.

Sreepur Police Station OC Khandaker Imam Hossain said they rescued the men of Globe Biotech and released them after checking their paper from the environment, forest and climate change ministry, and the Forest Department.

Tabibur Rahman, assistant forest conservator and in charge of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Safari Park, said the ministry on Jun 26 approved the pharmaceutical company’s plea to catch 56 monkeys for the trial after the Bangladesh Medical Research Council asked Globe to conduct the test on monkeys before humans.

The next day, the ministry sent letters to the company and Tabibur, permitting Globe to catch the monkeys.

Globe workers collected 30 monkeys from Bhawal National Park and Bangabandhu Safari Park in the three days from Jun 29.

But they faced the anger of the locals when they went to catch monkeys at Bormi Bazar on Sunday without informing the local officials of the Forest Department and the administration, Tabibur said.

Abul Hashem, president of Bormi Bazar Traders Association, said the traders informed him around 10am that some people were catching monkeys around 10am.

He went to the area and saw some monkeys in cages. He then enquired about the issue and learnt that the Globe Biotech workers had permission to catch the animals.

Hashem denied the allegation that the locals robbed the Globe workers of the moneys.

He said the locals became agitated when the Globe workers put the unconscious monkeys in cages.

“We feed the monkeys and take care of them despite their annoying us. We fed them even amid the lockdown,” he said, describing how the locals love the monkeys.

Globe Biotech, a Bangladeshi company, applied for permission to begin clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate ‘Bangavax’ in January. But, over three months later, it has yet to receive the approval of the Bangladesh Medical Research Council.

Globe received a licence to produce the potential vaccine for trial in December last year and applied for ethical clearance to begin clinical trials one month later.

One dose of the vaccine had created working antibodies during trials on animals, the company claimed.