Dhaka, Delhi going to script another golden chapter in relations

Diplomatic Correspondent

21 January, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Bangladesh and India are going to script another golden chapter in their bilateral relations as two million doses of Covid-19 vaccine are due to arrive in Dhaka today as a "gift" from New Delhi.

“India is sending 20 lakh doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India as a gift,” Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told reporters after attending a seminar in the city on Wednesday.

A special flight of India carrying the consignment will land at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka today.

Momen said there would be plenty of vaccines in the country soon and Bangladesh can start the vaccination programme ahead of the schedule.

The vaccines which will come as a gift will be handed over at a formal ceremony at State Guesthouse Padma at 1:15pm today.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, Health Minister Zahid Maleque, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh Vikram Kumar Doraiswami and other high government officials will be present on the occasion.

Asked whether Bangladesh will get vaccines as a gift from other countries, Momen said he is not aware of it, but more countries, including Russia and China, are interested in providing vaccines.

Meanwhile, a highly-placed source said 50 lakh doses of vaccine will come from India in the first phase through private sector channels soon.

The Serum Institute of India has produced the Covid-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and drug maker AstraZeneca.

On January 8, Bangladesh approved the procurement of 30 million doses of Covishield vaccine from India.

The Directorate General of the DGDA has authorised Beximco Pharmaceuticals Limited to import and distribute the COVID-19 vaccine from India. In the initial six months of the first phase, Beximco will procure five million vaccine doses per month.

An agreement was signed in November between the Bangladesh government and the Serum Institute of India through which Beximco will avail 30 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Since vaccine would be the ultimate weapon against coronavirus, diplomatic sources said the government has launched an all-out effort to get the vaccine for its citizens.