Health Minister Zahid Maleque said today that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has repeatedly requested Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for providing Covid-19 vaccines to Bangladesh.
"We ordered three crore vaccines. We paid for them beforehand but are not getting the vaccines on time. This is disrupting our vaccination programmes," he said at a press briefing organised at the Bangladesh College of Physicians and Surgeons (BCPS) premises in Mohakhali on Tuesday afternoon.
The health minister said local agent Beximco Pharma, the foreign ministry and the prime minister's office are trying to get the vaccines.
"Our Prime Minister has repeatedly requested the Prime Minister of India for vaccines. We may get the vaccines in a few days. We will know the amount soon," he added.
Zahid Maleque said, "Russia, China and the United States are also being contacted for vaccines. China has promised to provide five lakh vaccines."
He said, "There is a vaccine crisis around the world. Ten of the world's richest nations have bought 80 percent of the vaccines. So far, 50-60 countries have not even received any vaccine."
In the context of the ongoing lockdown, he said, lockdown is not the only way. With the lockdown, different countries of the world have reduced transmission. But there are also downsides to the lockdown as it increases poverty and social instability.
Regarding the benefits of the lockdown, the health minister said, "The number of infections has come down from 24 percent to 13 percent. We received good results from the lockdown. But it cannot continue forever. Long-term ways such as wearing a mask, sanitising hands, following hygiene rules and not attending ceremonies must be followed."
He added, "It is important to know how the second wave came about. Otherwise, we will have a third wave."
Zahid Maleque said, "After receiving the vaccine, we did not follow the hygiene rules. We went to tourist spots, wedding ceremonies. Thousands of people came from and went abroad. They did not follow the hygiene rules. That's why coronavirus has spread."
He warned, "If we make the same mistake again, we will have to pay for it like we are now. More than a hundred people are dying every day."
"We want to learn from the mistakes of other countries," he said. "We should also learn from our mistakes so that we can move forward in the future."