Will take 2 weeks to get vaccine from alternative sources: FM

The government is exploring Covid vaccines from three alternative sources, Russia, China and the USA, and it will take at least two weeks to complete the process, said Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday.

“It’s a reasonable time,” he told reporters at his residence, adding that talks with India are also underway to get at least 2 to 3 million doses of vaccine for addressing Bangladesh’s immediate need.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen was also present at the briefing.

The US will begin sharing its entire stock of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines with the world once it clears federal safety reviews, the White House said on Monday, with as many as 60 million doses expected to be available for export in the coming months.

Dr Momen said Bangladesh can allow the emergency use of vaccines from Russia and China. "We'll collect the vaccine wherever we get it."

Responding to a question, the Foreign Minister said Bangladesh requested China to supply vaccines to Bangladesh as soon as possible. In reply, the Chinese side said they will work with Bangladesh to that end.

He said there is a necessity for the supply of vaccine following delay and subsequent “halt” on supply of vaccine from India to Bangladesh.

Dr Momen said Bangladesh’s plan was effective but there is a new wave with a sharp rise of infection cases recently.

Responding to a question, he said the government is exploring direct purchase of vaccines from Russia on a G-to-G basis. Bangladesh has already approved the emergency use of the Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V.

Dr Momen briefed the journalists at his residence after a China-led virtual meeting that discussed cooperation among countries to deal with the Covid-19 situation, including setting up of “Covid Emergency Medical Storage Facility”.

He said China shared three ideas, including installing a development centre, to deal with post-Covid poverty and an e-Commerce Forum.

“We should believe in multilateralism. We laid emphasis on cooperation and partnership,” said the Foreign Minister.

Will take 2 weeks to get vaccine from alternative sources: FM

The medical facility will store various medical equipment and Bangladesh emphasised the provision of medical-grade oxygen.

Asked about the location of the medical facility, Momen said it is not fixed yet. However, Bangladesh proposed setting it up close to the sea so that the member countries can get it at the quickest possible time, in any case of emergency.

China wants to set up a Poverty Alleviation Centre and share their experiences of poverty reduction with South Asia as millions of people may be pushed on the fringe due to the pandemic.

China also wants to explore e-commerce opportunities in the rural areas given the Covid-19 induced restricted mobility.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi invited his counterparts in four other South Asian countries to the virtual meeting.

The Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan joined the meeting.

Dr Momen said China also welcomes India in this process and it is up to India to decide.

He said China will give 6 lakh doses of vaccine as a gift and hoped that Bangladesh will get a vaccine through commercial purchase soon.

Bangladesh has received 7 million of Oxford-AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine doses produced by Serum Institute of India (SII) vaccines through its contract. Bangladesh also received 3.3 million doses of vaccine as a bilateral partnership gift.

This is the largest amount sent from India to any country.

Source: United News of Bangladesh