Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday said that the Chinese government is working to start delivery of Covid-19 vaccine before Eid-ul-Fitr despite ongoing 5-day May Day holiday in China, what he sees as “special friendship” with Bangladesh.
He said the Chinese Ambassador in Dhaka Li Jiming recently informed them that vaccine doses will start arriving here before Eid while the Health Minister Zahid Maleque shared a more specific date – May 10.
“The Health Ministry will decide when and how many doses of vaccine will arrive and what will be the transportation system. They know when we’ll need it,” Dr Momen told UNB adding that they have just helped the Health Ministry establish a network with both China and Russia as alternative sources of vaccines.
The foreign minister said there is a five-day May Day holiday in China that will end on May 5 and everything remains closed in China due to the current holiday.
“It takes some time as vaccines are produced based on order,” Dr Momen said, adding that discussions with Russia and the US are on to get vaccines.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday reaffirmed that the government will procure vaccines at any cost to protect people from coronavirus.
"We are bringing more vaccines, no matter how much money is required; we will bring more vaccines."
China was supposed to give 500,000 doses of vaccine as a gift apart from supplying vaccines through commercial purchase.
Bangladesh has received seven 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.
The US has decided to share its entire stock of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines with the world once it clears federal safety reviews, the White House said, with as many as 60 million doses expected to be available for export in the coming months.
“We sought vaccines from the US as they have a stock of 60 million doses. We would definitely welcome it,” Dr Momen said.
He said they came to know, not in any letter (formal channel) but publicly that the US identified India and Brazil as priority countries to supply vaccines.
Dr Momen said the US assured of making Covid-19 vaccines available for other countries including Bangladesh once they have surplus reaching the level of mass vaccination in the US.
“I can assure you when we can reach the level of the critical mass vaccination and we’ve surplus, we’ll absolutely make vaccines available in whatever different ways,” said John Kerry, the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate told reporters during his recent visit to Bangladesh.
Diplomacy in Digital Era
The foreign minister said they are continuing their diplomatic activities using digital tools despite disruptions globally amid the Covid pandemic.
“We’re continuously connecting with everyone,” he said, mentioning that webinars and WhatsApp emerged as frequent means of communication during the Covid situation.
Dr Momen, however, said in-person meetings and negotiations came down significantly due to the current situation. “But in-person meetings are good for better negotiations.”
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