Foreign Minister Dr A K Abdul Momen yesterday (22 April 2021) said Bangladesh will purchase Chinese vaccine soon while Beijing have given pledge to provide six lakh doses of COVID-19 inoculates as a gift first.
“They (China) will give us their vaccine soon .. so the fear of vaccine shortage won’t be taken place here (Bangladesh),” he told media at his residence in the capital today. He said, apart from selling vaccines to Bangladesh, Beijing will also send six lakh doses of vaccine to Dhaka as a gift.
“I am expecting to get that 6 lakh doses of vaccine as a gift very soon,” he added. Dr Momen said Beijing has also given a proposal to make an emergency vaccine storage for six countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – for urgent use.
“We have already agreed with that (Chinese) proposal in principle”, he said, adding that a foreign ministerial level meeting among those six countries is supposed to be held on February 27 to discuss COVID-19 cooperation among South Asian nations.
The minister said Bangladesh didn’t show much interest about Chinese vaccine earlier as their vaccine is not approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). But, he said, Dhaka now observed that more than 100 million people have already taken Chinese vaccine without complexity while China exported its vaccine to 80 countries around the globe.
After fearing that India could get run out of vaccine for its own citizens while its opposition leaders demanding an immediate moratorium on the export of vaccines, Dhaka started vigorously hunting for other sources for getting the high demanded inoculation. Apart from China, Dhaka and Moscow also agreed in principle to manufacture Russian ‘Sputnik’ COVID-19 vaccine in Bangladesh in collaboration with the local pharmaceuticals under a co-production arrangement.
The foreign minister said that Bangladesh would also purchase vaccine from Russian apart from producing those here. On January 21, Bangladesh received its first ever COVID-19 vaccine consignment while India sent 20 million doses as gift as part of their neighborhood plus policy. Later, during the visit of Indian premier Narendra Modi here, Bangladesh also got 1.2 million doses of vaccine as a gift.
Apart from the gift, Bangladesh purchased 30 million doses of India-made vaccine under a tripartite memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on November 5 and a subsequent agreement on December 13 among Bangladesh government, Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd (BPL) and the Serum Institute of India (SII). As per the agreement, Bangladesh is supposed to receive 5 million doses in each month, but after getting seven million of doses, Dhaka is yet to receive the second consignment that was scheduled to arrive here by March.
“They (India) have been telling us that they would send the vaccines… they never said that they couldn’t,” Momen told the media earlier this week. He said Dhaka keeps confidence in Indian assurance and is hopeful to get all the 30 million doses of vaccine within the timeframe of the agreement.
Meanwhile, spokesperson of the Indian High Commission here yesterday said that India would continue to do its best to support the vaccine rollout in neighborhood countries. “We can only share what is actually available and the fact is that there is a huge amount of demand and not enough supply,” he told media in a What’s App message.
As production is increased to meet the increased demand in India and globally, it will be possible to increase supplies, he added.