Relations with China as usual: FM Momen
Staff Correspondent: Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen yesterday said there is no “deficit” in terms of relations with China over the vaccine issue, saying the relationship remains as usual without any change.
“Diplomatically, we agreed that Bangladesh wants to buy (vaccine doses from China) and they would like to supply,” he told reporters at his office.
The Foreign Minister said vaccine doses will be procured from the Chinese company and the Chinese government will play the role of facilitator in between. “The private company will decide what it’ll do. It’s their matter.” He said no problem is supposed to be there as there is no such change. On Saturday, Hualong Yan, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka, said no deal was made between Sinopharm and the Bangladesh side till yesterday. He said this will be a commercial purchase negotiation between the Bangladesh government and Sinopharm, rather than with the Chinese government.
On May 27, the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase approved a proposal for buying 1.5 crore doses of Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccine.
Hualong Yan in a Facebook post on Saturday said 600,000 doses of vaccine gifted by the Chinese government are ready for delivery by June 13. “It’s sincerely hoped that our Bangladeshi brothers and sisters will get the most needed vaccines at an earlier date,” he said.
Just nine days after the arrival of the first batch of 500,000 doses of gift vaccine in Bangladesh, China announced the provision of the second batch of gift vaccine doses to Bangladesh.
China says it fully reflects that China attaches great importance to the friendly relations between the two countries.
The Foreign Minister said that good news is that the US will provide vaccine doses to Bangladesh. “But they didn’t tell us the exact figure.”
He said Bangladesh needs a huge amount of vaccine doses as it is a big market of 165 million people.
Dr Momen said the first consignment of urgent medical supplies from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) is scheduled to arrive yesterday.
As part of its ongoing emergency assistance to countries in South Asia, the US government, through the USAID, on Saturday airlifted urgent medical supplies to help Bangladesh.
The US Air Force C-17 flight departed from Travis Air Force Base in California for Dhaka, Bangladesh carrying over 2 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect thousands of health care workers in Bangladesh.
This assistance, which includes the delivery of ventilators, supports the country’s capacity to test and diagnose the virus, increases prevention and control practices, strengthens supply chain and logistics management systems, enhances risk communications to counter misinformation, and ensures the effective roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines, said USAID.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said 6.80 crore doses of coronavirus vaccine will be available from the Covax facility under the World Health Organisation for 20 percent of our population, that is, for 3.40 crore people. Out of this 1.06 lakh doses have already been received.
Apart from India and China, there are plans to buy vaccines from the governments of China and Russia, Pfizer Co. from the USA and Sanofi/GSK from France/Belgium.
Negotiations are underway on procuring Sputnik-V vaccine from Russia, and, if necessary, manufacturing the same in Bangladesh.
The World Bank provided US$ 500 million for procuring Covid vaccines and US$ 14.87 million for logistics support.
Loan Agreement for US$ 940 million with the ADB to procure Covid vaccines is at the final stage. Alongside, there is a good possibility to receive support for vaccine procurement from the European Investment Bank and AIIB.
Plans have been devised to vaccinate 80 percent of the people in phases and in the first phase, people with risks will be vaccinated. The first dose of vaccination began on February 7 while that of the second dose started on 8 April.
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