Eastern Times Correspondent, Dhaka, 23 April: Bangladesh has signed a COVID-19 vaccine co-production agreement with Russia in an effort to continue its inoculation campaign, a top Bangladeshi official said Thursday.
The South Asian country is working hard to find more vaccine sources as its mass inoculation program that began in February has been hit hard since India suspended the only remaining source of vaccines in Bangladesh despite a tripartite agreement.
Russia and Bangladesh recently signed an agreement to manufacture Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in Bangladesh on a co-production arrangement. Bangladesh will purchase vaccines commercially from Russia apart from the co-production, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told the media in Dhaka.
“Bangladesh and Russia agreed on the proposal of co-production as Russia will not be able to meet the total vaccine demand of Bangladesh. But there is a condition that Bangladesh will not share the vaccine production formula with others, and we agreed,” he added.
The health ministries of both countries signed the deal on behalf of their respective governments. The vaccine produced under the agreement can be exported to any third country. Bangladesh has already provided Russia with a list of companies capable of producing vaccines in Bangladesh, he added.
Bangladesh also agreed to join a new platform initiated by China for an emergency corona-virus vaccine. India, however, was excluded from the initiative.
“China will give us the vaccine. We are doing official work with China to get vaccines from them, and they also agreed to provide a vaccine soon. In the beginning, China will give 600,000 doses of vaccines as a gift,” said Momen.
Meanwhile, the government is working to get the remaining doses on time from India under the tripartite agreement, he added.
Bangladesh signed a tripartite agreement with the Serum Institute of India to procure 30 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at 5 million doses per month from January to June this year. India, however, gave 3 million doses as a gift to Dhaka.
But the country has only received 7 million doses as of April and India said it would not be exporting the vaccine in the next two months due to a domestic shortage.
Indian High Commissioner to Dhaka Vikram Doraiswami told the media Thursday that his country is giving due priority to Bangladesh and is trying to meet the vaccine demand of its neighbor under the agreement.
“The whole world is running short of COVID-19 vaccines and we are all working on increasing the availability and supply of vaccines,” he added.
Around 5.8 million people in Bangladesh had received the first dose and 1.9 million took second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine as of Thursday.
According to the Health Ministry, COVID-19 has killed at least 10,781 people in Bangladesh and infected 736,074 others.