• Friday, Oct 22, 2021
  • Last Update : 09:31 am

FM Momen: More countries approached for vaccines; talks with China at final stage

  • Published at 06:31 pm May 20th, 2021
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen adressing the press in Dhaka on Thursday, May 20, 2021 Focus Bangla

Bangladesh seeks more jabs from India as gift to meet emergency needs

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Thursday said the government is making its best efforts to get vaccines connecting multiple countries – the US, China, Canada, Russia and the UK – apart from its continuous request to India to meet Bangladesh's urgent needs. 

He said the discussion with China is almost at the final stage while they are expecting a positive reply from the US on the vaccine front.

While talking to reporters at State guesthouse Padma, Dr Momen said there are people who could not take a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine due to supply shortage from India. 

He also highlighted the ongoing discussion with Russia. "Hope, everything will be settled within a week."

Responding to a question, the foreign minister said they came to know unofficially that Bangladesh is not there on the priority list of the US as there is a lesser number of deaths in Bangladesh.

"I didn't like the idea. They [US] don't think it's a crisis in Bangladesh," he said, adding that it is indeed an emergency issue for Bangladesh.

US State Department Coordinator for Global Covid Response and Health Security Gayle E Smith has said the US is going to be the largest sharer of vaccines putting 80 million additional vaccines into the mix.

"I can’t tell you at this point what the allocation is going to be per country. We will have information for you later on. And as I think, I mentioned, we are also, with respect to India and also India’s neighbors, mounting an emergency humanitarian response given the surges that are ongoing there," she added.

In a telephonic media briefing on Wednesday, Smith referred to an announcement by US President Joe Biden earlier this week that they will be sharing 20 million vaccine doses from their own stocks in addition to the 60 million AstraZeneca doses.  

"So, that means we’re going to be putting 80 million additional vaccines into the mix, making us the largest sharer of vaccines thus far," she said.

The US official said given the surge there, India has been a major priority for the US.  "We’ve delivered $100 million in emergency assistance; mobilized with the American private sector a pretty amazing response, again, from the American private sector and public, and we’ll continue to do so."

Smith said she does not have anything to say yet on the ultimate allocations, but they will reach out and make sure that all are informed when those decisions are made.

Responding to a question on India, Dr Momen said India did never say that they will not give vaccine doses to Bangladesh but failed to deliver. 

He said India was requested to provide vaccine doses to Bangladesh as a gift to meet its emergency need if India has an embargo on export. "I should say we had a very positive discussion [with his Indian counterpart]," Dr Momen said. 

Earlier, Foreign Minister Dr Momen requested his Indian counterpart Dr S Jaishankar to ensure supply of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doses jabs to Bangladesh as soon as possible to meet its needs.

Bangladesh entered into a deal with the Serum Institute of India (SII) to purchase 30 million doses of a potential vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca for Covid-19.

Bangladesh was supposed to get five million doses of vaccine per month as the SII and Bangladesh’s Beximco Pharma signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for priority delivery of the vaccine doses.

Bangladesh sought at least 3 million doses of vaccine under the agreement to address the immediate demand in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has so far received only seven million of Oxford-AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine doses produced by Serum Institute of India (SII) through its contract. Bangladesh also received 3.3 million doses of vaccine as a bilateral partnership gift.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh has sought at least two million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from Canada on an emergency basis to meet the emergency need of 1.6 million of its doses to provide second doses.

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