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Bangladesh to get Covid vaccine from India as per deal: Minister

04 Jan 2021 14:52, Somoy English Desk
Bangladesh to get Covid vaccine from India as per deal: Minister
Bangladesh to get Covid vaccine from India as per deal: Minister

Although India slapped a ban on the export of Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, Bangladesh will get the jab as per the agreement signed with the Serum Institute of India, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said on Monday. 

“We’ve inked a deal with India over Serum vaccine. Besides, we’d talks with the External Affairs Ministry and the Indian authorities. We’ve got assurance from all sides,” he said.

The minister made the remarks while addressing an online briefing.

He said US$ 120 million will be sent to India in a day or two to procure vaccine.

After the minister’s briefing, Health Services Division Secretary Md Abdul Mannan said the Indian High Commission in Dhaka has informed Bangladesh that the Indian government banned the export of vaccine for commercial purposes. “But the agreement with Bangladesh was signed at the government level. There’s no barrier here. So, half of the money ($120 million) will be paid by today (Monday). The minister has already approved it,” he said.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said Dhaka has contacted New Delhi to get Covid-19 vaccine from India. “Details in this regard can be known soon,” he told Somoy News on Monday morning.

Dr Momen said the Foreign Affairs Ministry does not know anything officially about the ban on the vaccine export by India. “The Health Ministry might be aware of it,” he said, adding that he was informed of the matter after getting phone calls from journalists.

Uncertainty is looming large over Bangladesh’s availability of the Covid-19 vaccine as India has banned the export of the jab for several months.

India will not allow the export of the coronavirus vaccine for several months, the head of Serum Institute of India, which has been contracted to make 1 billion doses of the vaccine for developing nations, said on Sunday, reports AP.

With rich nations reserving most of the vaccines that will be made this year, Serum Institute — the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer — is likely to make most of the inoculations for developing countries. 

The ban on exports, however, means that poorer nations will probably have to wait a few months before receiving their first shots.

With India approving the coronavirus vaccine, Bangladesh had expected to get the jab in the last week of January.

Health Minister Zahid Maleque has said Bangladesh might get the vaccine at the end of January.

Bangladesh has signed a deal with the Serum Institute of India and local company Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd to procure 3 crore doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine with 50 lakh arriving in every lot.

The vaccine was granted emergency authorization by the Indian regulator on Sunday, but on the condition that Serum Institute doesn’t export the shots to ensure that vulnerable populations in India are protected, Adar Poonawalla, the company’s CEO, said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

He said the company also has been barred from selling the vaccine on the private market.

“We can only give (the vaccines) to the government of India at the moment,” Poonawalla said, adding the decision was also made to prevent hoarding.

Serum Institute is also negotiating bilateral agreements with individual countries including Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, Poonawalla said. “So that at least the most vulnerable in the states of our country or in other parts of other countries are taken care off,” he said.

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