Bangladesh seeks vaccines from 3 alternative sources

Diplomatic Correspondent

28 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

In a desperate move, Bangladesh has sought Covid-19 vaccines from China, Russia and the United States at the earliest after India has paused exports of Covishield vaccine due to a surge in new infections and a rising death toll in India.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday said the government is trying to get Covid-19 vaccines from three specific alternatives – China, Russia and the US – and it will take at least two weeks to complete the formalities and necessary process.

He said Bangladesh can allow the emergency use of vaccines from Russia and China. "We'll allow the vaccine from wherever we get it."

The United States will begin sharing its entire stock of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines with the world once it clears federal safety reviews, the White House said on Monday, with as many as 60 million doses expected to be available for export in the coming months.

Momen was talking to reporters following the six nations Foreign Ministers meeting held virtually on Tuesday afternoon. The China-led initiative was participated by the Foreign Ministers of Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Diplomatic sources said this is the first meeting of the China-led initiative called "China-South Asia Platform for Covid-19 Consultation, Cooperation, and Post-pandemic Economic Recovery".

Under the platform, China proposed establishing “Covid-19 Emergency Medical Facility, Poverty Alleviation, and e-commerce in rural areas.”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke with his South Asian counterparts on varieties of issues related to the ongoing pandemic, with special emphasis on setting up the medical storage facility.

The medical facility will store various medical equipment, including vaccines. Dhaka emphasised the provision of medical-grade oxygen and vaccines since Covid-19 is an emergency at the moment.

Foreign Minister Momen said China shared three ideas, including installing a development centre, to deal with post-Covid poverty and an e-Commerce Forum.

"We should believe in multilateralism. We emphasized cooperation and partnership," Momen said.

Responding to a question about the location of the medical storage to be set up, the Bangladesh Foreign Minister said it was not decided yet.

However, Dhaka has proposed to set it up close to the sea so that the member countries can get it at the quickest possible time, in any case of emergency.

China wants to set up a Poverty Alleviation Centre and share their experiences of poverty reduction with South Asia as millions of people may be pushed on the fringe due to the pandemic.

Also, China wants to explore e-commerce opportunities in the rural areas given the Covid-19 induced restricted mobility.

Momen told reporters that China has also welcomed India in this process and it is up to India to decide.

He informed that China will give 6 lakh doses of vaccine as a gift and hoped that Bangladesh will get a vaccine through commercial purchase soon.

Bangladesh has already received 7 million of made in India Covishield (Oxford-AstraZeneca) vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII) vaccines through its commercial deal.

Apart from that, Bangladesh also received 3.3 million doses of vaccine from India as a bilateral partnership gift. This is the largest amount sent from India to any country as part of its neighbourhood first policy.

Dhaka is expecting to receive Corona vaccines from India as the US President during his talks with the Indian Prime Minister over the telephone on Monday assured to ensure effective supply of raw materials for the vaccine.