India's gift of two million Covid-19 vaccine doses to Bangladesh is the sign of partnership, cooperation and collaboration, says Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has thanked her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for sending the Oxford-AstraZenenca Covid-19 vaccine produced in India as a gift to Bangladesh.
"I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi for sending the vaccine (batch) as a gift," she said on Thursday, while virtually addressing an international conference titled “Celebrating the 100 Years of the University of Dhaka: Reflections from the Alumni - International and National,” on the occasion of the university's 100th founding anniversary.
The prime minister hoped that the vaccine that Bangladesh procured from India would arrive by January 25-26.
She said they had already planned how they would proceed with the vaccine. "We have taken all the steps to face the Covid-19 situation in the country," she added.
She hoped that Bangladesh would get rid of the Covid-19. “That is what we expect.”
Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni addressed the opening ceremony as a special guest, while prominent economist Rehman Sobhan presented the keynote speech, held at the university's Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban with Vice-chancellor Prof Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman in chair.
DU Pro-VC (Academic) ASM Maksud Kamal gave the vote of thanks, while Pro-VC (Administration) Mohammad Samad read out the citation on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Earlier, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Kumar Doraiswami handed over the consignment of Covid-19 vaccine to Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and Health Minister Zahid Maleque at a ceremony at state guest house Padma on Thursday afternoon. State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam was, among others, present.
The foreign minister said the arrival of two million doses of Oxford vaccine from India shows the sign of strong relations and goodwill between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
"It is a historic day. They have (Hasina and Modi) achieved such a goodwill and strong relations. It shows the sign of that bonding," he said after receiving the vaccine as a gift from India.
The foreign minister said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina from day one laid emphasis on partnership and collaboration in dealing with the Covid-19 situation.
"Today's gift from India is the sign of partnership, cooperation and collaboration," Dr Momen said.
He said many developed countries were yet to get the vaccine, and Bangladesh is one of its earliest recipients in the world.
Reiterating the highest priority India attaches to Bangladesh under India's Neighbourhood First Policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 17 assured that vaccines would be made available to Bangladesh as and when produced in India.
Both Prime Minister Hasina and her Indian counterpart Modi also noted the ongoing bilateral collaboration between the private sectors in this area.
Referring to Bloomberg media, Foreign Minister Dr Momen and State Minister Shahriar Alam said Bangladesh had become number one in terms of Covid-19 management in South Asia.
Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr S Jaishankar tweeted on "VaccineMaitri," saying that India reaffirms the highest priority to its relations with Bangladesh.
It is part of commitment made at the highest level -- Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- and as part of Neighbourhood First policy, said Indian High Commissioner Doraiswami.
He said Bangladesh and India would fight the disease together as friends.
Another five million doses of the vaccine from India are expected to arrive within this month.
Some five million doses of the vaccine are scheduled to arrive in each of the next six months as per the agreement.
Meanwhile, the government has approved a Tk1,271.55-crore proposal by the Health Services Division to import the 30 million doses of the vaccine from the Serum Institute of India, who is licensed to produce the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in India.
The Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase approved the proposal on Thursday. The government has not disclosed how much it would cost to bring each dose.