China to provide 600,000 doses of vaccine as gift; talks with Russia underway
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Thursday said there is no reason to be worried about Covid-19 vaccine stock, noting that Bangladesh will have enough vaccine jabs as planned, including a gift of 600,000 doses from China.
“We’ve enough stock. We’ve made a line up. We’ll have enough. China will give 600.000 doses of vaccine as a gift. We don’t have to worry about it... we’re okay,” he said.
Bangladesh has received seven million of Oxford-AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine doses produced by Serum Institute of India (SII) through its contract. Bangladesh also received 3.3 million doses of vaccine as a bilateral partnership gift.
This is the largest amount sent from India to any country.
Talking to reporters at his residence, Dr Momen said the two health ministries of Russia and Bangladesh agreed in principle on the proposal of vaccine production in Bangladesh.
“We’re on the same page. Our Health Ministry knows the details. Things will be finalized by the Health Ministry,” said the foreign minister.
Talking to UNB last week, the foreign minister revealed that Russia proposed Bangladesh to go for a co-production of vaccines. “It’s not bad. We’re keeping our options open.”
He said Russia will give the technology and Bangladeshi pharmaceutical companies will produce the Russian vaccine here if things go well. “It’ll be cheap and hopefully it’ll be better.”
Responding to a question on discussion with the US, Dr Momen said the US has assured of making Covid-19 vaccines available for other countries, including Bangladesh, once they have surplus reaching the level of mass vaccination in the US.
“I can assure you when we can reach the level of the critical mass vaccination and we’ve surplus, we’ll absolutely make vaccines available in whatever different ways,” John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate told reporters during his recent visit to Bangladesh.
Despite high demand in India, Bangladesh hopes that India will supply the rest of the Oxford-AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine doses produced by Serum Institute of India (SII) to Bangladesh as agreed between the two countries but keeps other options open.
Bangladesh has purchased 30 million doses of the vaccine from Serum Institute and the first shipment of five million arrived in January while the second consignment of two million doses of Covid-19 came in February.
The foreign minister acknowledged the high demand for vaccines globally, including the demand by some political leaders in India to halt export.
“I think it won’t be applicable for us as we made arrangements and made advance payment. India announced the vaccine will be delivered as per schedule. And we believe it,” Dr Momen said.
Once China had shown much interest to give vaccines to Bangladesh but Bangladesh was reluctant at that time as their vaccine was not approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), he said.
Dr Momen said China administered vaccines for their vast population, which they say without any side-effects apart from proving their vaccine to over 50 countries. “We’re continuing discussion with them [China] again so that they can help us.”
India has also approved the use of Russian Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said.
Bangladesh was one of the few countries to get the vaccine first joining hands with its neighbour India amid high demand for it globally.
“It could have been possible due to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s prudent leadership and farsightedness. She took the initiative from day one,” Dr Momen added.