It is heartening to know that ‘a tangible progress’ has been achieved in negotiation with vaccine producing countries for coproduction of Covid-19 vaccines in Bangladesh. According to Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, ‘a very pragmatic’ discussion is underway between Bangladesh and China on procurement as well as coproduction of the vaccine doses, and Bangladesh will hopefully be able to make a formal announcement soon in this regard. A Chinese team is expected to visit Bangladesh to assess feasibility of vaccine co-production. Earlier it was reported that talks with Russia was also at final stages for procurement and co-production of the vaccines.
It is about time Bangladesh brought urgency to its vaccination drive which has been reduced to a snail’s pace due to supply crunch. Now a gift of 11 lakh doses from China, gift from USA and Covax, and a renewed scope of bulk procurement from China and Russia in coming months have rejuvenated the vaccination efforts to some extent.At the same time we cannot emphasise enough the importance of vaccine co-production initiative because such an initiative can scale up manufacturing of more vaccines at more speed. So, we must utilise every option and go on a war footing to accelerate the speed of the inoculation process. Let the country get vaccinated, fast; otherwise frequent lockdowns and disruption to business and life might continue for a longer period. The cost of lockdown and restriction on business both in terms of money and human life is higher than the spending on vaccines.
Today most of the developed countries including UK, UAE, USA, Israel are all seeing dramatic reductions in case and death counts, mainly thanks to their successful vaccine drives. But now we are possibly witnessing a third wave.
Money was not a problem for Bangladesh, but we made a mistake by depending on a single source. Now the government is chasing the vaccine from all possible sources. We commend the government’s ability to rethink and recalibrate quickly to secure more Covid-19 vaccine doses for the citizens.