The West as well as India remain unresponsive, while China and Russia are responding positively to Bangladesh’s appeal
Ahead of a potential crisis, Bangladesh is making desperate diplomatic efforts to procure Covid-19 vaccines from different countries to continue the nationwide vaccination program.
As the Serum Institute of India, with whom Bangladesh has an agreement to acquire 30 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, fails to provide the shots, an uncertainty has been created about the administration of the second jab for 1.5 million people. Therefore, diplomatic efforts have been intensified to get the necessary amount of doses for those who have already received their first shots.
The country has so far received seven million doses from the Serum Institute of India. In addition to that, the Indian government has sent 3.2 million shots as a gift to Bangladesh.
The government endeavours to vaccinate the entire population in the long run.
The West and India remain unresponsive to the appeal made by Bangladesh, but China and Russia are responding positively.
Recently, Bangladesh appeared to have explored the possibilities of procuring vaccines from many countries. The country is also trying to get vaccines from private entities in the UK and the US.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen appealed to the UK on Friday to get 1.6 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Speaking to ITV, a British private TV channel, he described the vaccine situation in Bangladesh as a crisis, saying: “We are desperate.”
In an interview with US network CNN on the same day, the foreign minister asked for a share of the vaccine doses Washington said it would share with others.
He expressed Bangladesh’s willingness to receive the vaccine from the US without the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine is approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Bangladesh requested the UK and US earlier to provide vaccines, but without any success.
On Friday, in a telephone conversation with his Bangladeshi counterpart, the Chinese foreign minister pledged to provide 600,000 doses of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine made in China.
This is in addition to some 500,000 vaccine doses provided by China on May 12.
Earlier on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Dr Momen called his Indian counterpart to send vaccine doses to Bangladesh as a gift. His logic was that the export of vaccines was not prohibited in India, but sending them as a gift was not.
Bangladesh also requested Canada to provide vaccines. The Canadian high commissioner in Dhaka told the foreign minister that he would convey the request to his government.
Bangladesh also explored the possibility of getting vaccines from seven European countries, including Denmark, Austria and Croatia. But the number of vaccine doses these countries have is small in quantity and will not make any significant difference to the needs.
China, Russia are the next sources of vaccines
Despite having Covid-19 vaccines in stock, the West - especially the US and the UK - is not providing the shots to Bangladesh, the eighth largest country in the world in terms of population.
It is also unlikely that Bangladesh will get the vaccine doses from India per the agreement with Serum Institute in the near future.
Under this circumstance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes that China and Russia will be the sources of vaccines in the near future to inoculate the Bangladeshis.
The ministry is working and hoping to get an unspecified number of vaccines from China and Russia within the next month.
In the long run, the government is willing to produce Chinese and Russian vaccines in the country as well.