Bangladesh needs Covid vaccines desperately, says foreign minister
Zydus Cadila’s Covid-19 vaccine approval gives boost to India’s vaccination programme. (Photo: iStock)
BANGLADESH is desperate to get vaccines from the US, China, Canada, Russia, the UK and India, foreign minister AK Abdul Momen said.
He made various appeals through ITV News and CNN to secure coronavirus vaccines for the country’s emergency needs.
Amid fears that the Indian variant of Covid-19 could rapidly spread in Bangladesh, Momen described the situation as a “crisis”.
He feared many more people could have carried the virus through the borders.
Bangladesh tried to close its border with India but could not prevent the influx of people; around 3,350 Bangladeshis returned from India through Benapole land port alone from April 26 till date, said Momen.
Bangladesh has so far officially sought vaccines from the US, the UK, alongside China, Russia and also Canada.
Health officials said Bangladesh currently has a stock of one million doses of AstraZeneca’s Covishield vaccine and Chinese Sinopharm jabs and is expecting 100,000 Pfizer shots, but they fear all supplies will be exhausted within a few days.
In his interview with CNN, Momen said a large number of people in Bangladesh who took the first dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca could not take the second dose and so “we need it desperately”.
After its request to the US, Bangladesh has urged the UK to provide 1.6 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to meet its emergency needs.
“I’m not asking for too much, I’m only asking for 1.6 million AstraZeneca doses that they have . . . (UK) they should immediately disburse those to Bangladesh so that people can have their second dose,” Momen told ITV News.
Bangladesh earlier entered into a deal with India’s Serum Institute (SII) to procure 30 million doses of vaccines. But it received seven million doses in two consignments until February while the third consignment, which was expected in March, is yet to reach the country.
India provided 3.2 million doses as gifts to Bangladesh. “India is facing a very critical situation, very alarming… They’re finding it difficult, we can understand it,” Momen told ITV News.
Bangladesh also contacted China and Russia to get their vaccines.
Dhaka earlier this week signed a non-disclosure agreement with China on purchasing the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine and co-producing the vaccines in Bangladesh, a month after reaching a nearly identical deal with Russia for production of the Sputnik V vaccine.