The situation is made more frustrating knowing that many nations, Bangladesh included, have the ability to produce these vaccines themselves
It is good news that the government has confirmed the acquirement of more than a million more doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, thanks to the Covax program, a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines across the world, directed by several institutions, including the World Health Organization.
This generosity is appreciated, considering the rate at which the coronavirus is spreading and evolving, the damage that it has already done, and will no doubt continue to do. At this point, there is no doubt that vaccinating our population should be a top priority.
But this generosity is also something that has been forced upon the developing world: Due to the ownership of intellectual property rights in the hands of pharmaceutical companies -- companies whose vaccine research was funded, it should be noted, by tax-payers to a great extent -- countries like ours continue to struggle, either with availability or affordability.
What is perhaps even more problematic is the fact that one of the organizations behind the Covax program is Gavi, an organization contributed to by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of whose founders has spent significant resources ensuring that companies would “hold exclusive rights to lifesaving medicines, no matter how much they benefited from public funding.”
The situation is made more frustrating knowing that many nations, Bangladesh included, have the ability to produce these vaccines themselves. We could be taking care of not only our own citizens, but also allowing the world to increase its overall vaccine production, saving more lives in the process.
Given the unequal state of global affairs at this point, even during a pandemic, Bangladesh would do well to put its resources into our very own Covid vaccine and move away from depending on programs like Covax.
That will only happen, of course, if the Health Ministry does not continue to waste more time and hide more information from the public regarding its progress.