China has sent a proposal to Bangladesh's government, expressing its interest in giving Covid-19 vaccines as a gift to Bangladesh.
The foreign ministry sent the proposal to the health ministry after receiving it from China. Additionally, Bangladesh is preparing to import vaccines from Russia as the country has already agreed.
According to minutes of a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, in February, China will provide 2,00,000 doses of the vaccine as a gift.
However, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told The Business Standard that the amount is higher.
He said, "China has expressed its interest in giving the vaccine as a gift to Bangladesh. The amount is more than two lakh doses. We have sent their proposal to the health ministry. Moreover, talks are also underway with Covid-19 vaccine-producing countries to produce vaccines in Bangladesh."
Secretary to the health service department Abdul Mannan could not be reached via his mobile phone after repeated attempts. He also did not reply to an SMS sent to his mobile phone.
China had offered to trial the Sinovac vaccine in Bangladesh. The country had offered to give one million doses of the vaccine free of cost if the trial was held in Bangladesh. However, due to differences between the two countries over the funding of the trial, it did not take place in the end.
Later, another Chinese company, Anhui Hefei Longcom Biologic Pharmacy, proposed to hold a third-stage trial of its vaccine in Bangladesh last November, which also did not materialise.
Several countries – including Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey, Jordan, Algeria, and Ukraine – are using the Chinese government's SinoVAC vaccine.
India has gifted two million doses of vaccine to Bangladesh, invented by Oxford-Astrazeneca and produced by the Serum Institute. Bangladesh is importing 30 million doses of vaccine from India through Beximco Pharmaceuticals. India has already supplied five million doses of imported vaccines to Bangladesh.
In the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs' February 10 meeting, Foreign Minister Abdul Momen said that China had expressed its interest in providing 200,000 free vaccines and Russia had also agreed to supply its vaccines. However, regarding importing vaccines, Bangladesh is considering its storage and transportation system.
At the meeting, Senior Foreign Ministry Secretary Masud bin Momen said the issue of importing Russian-made vaccines was in process. Instead of being dependent on India alone to import vaccines, efforts are being made to import them from other sources.
The vaccine invented by Johnson & Johnson in the United States has shown good results with the use of a single dose, which has led to increased interest by various countries. Health Secretary Abdul Mannan told reporters last week that talks are underway to import the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.