Indian gift of 20 lakh doses of Covid-19 vaccine arrives
The country received 20 lakh doses of Covid-19 vaccines gifted by India on Thursday.
Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Kumar Doraiswami handed over the Covid-19 vaccines to Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and Health Minister Zahid Maleque at a ceremony at State guesthouse Padma.
Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr S Jaishankar tweeted on 'VaccineMaitri' saying India reaffirms the highest priority accorded by India to relations with Bangladesh, however, the vaccines are under the India's grant assistance programme for countries in South Asian neighbourhood,.
"Next stop Bangladesh! Consignment of Indian made Covid vaccines takes off for Bangladesh! #VaccineMaitri #NeighbourhoodFirst," Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava tweeted along with a photo.
"It's a historic day. They've (Hasina and Modi) achieved such a goodwill and strong relations! It shows the sign of that bonding," Foreign Minister Dr Momen said after receiving the Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine as gift from India.
Momen said the arrival of 20 lakh doses of Oxford vaccine from India shows the sign of strong relations and goodwill between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
Meanwhile, a chartered flight of Air India carrying the vaccines landed at Shahjalal International Airport at 11:21am, the first consignment of 20 lakh doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
Another plane carrying the vaccines for Nepal, India's supplies to Bangladesh and Nepal came just a day after similar consignments were sent to the Maldives and Bhutan.
"It is part of commitment made at the highest level - Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi - and as part of Neighbourhood First policy," Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Kumar Doraiswami remarked while handing over the Covid-19 vaccines to Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and Health Minister Zahid Maleque at the ceremony.
He said Bangladesh and India will fight the disease together as friends.
The Foreign Minister Momen said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina from the day one laid emphasis on partnership and collaboration in dealing with the Covid-19 situation.
"Today's gift from India is the sign of partnership, cooperation and collaboration," Dr Momen said adding that collaboration, cooperation and partnership is very essential for each country in the world.
Reiterating the highest priority India attaches to Bangladesh under India's Neighbourhood First Policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 17 assured that vaccines would be made available to Bangladesh as and when produced in India.
Both Prime Minister Hasina and her Indian counterpart Modi also noted the ongoing bilateral collaboration between the private sectors in this area.
Asked whether the Foreign Minister will get vaccinated, he said since he is elected by people, he would prefer to save their lives first.
The Foreign Minister thanked the Health Ministry for managing the situation though there has been negative campaign centering Covid-19 situation and its death toll. "We remain connected and are working together."
He also thanked the people of India and the Indian government for sending the vaccine as a gift.
Referring to Bloomberg media, Foreign Minister Dr Momen and State Minister Shahriar Alam said Bangladesh have become number one in terms of Covid-19 management in South Asia.
Momen said many developed countries are yet to get the vaccine and Bangladesh is one of the earliest recipients of vaccine in the world State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam was present there.
On January 7, the government approved the emergency use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
The approval would allow Beximco Pharmaceuticals to bring doses from the Serum Institute of India, which is manufacturing the vaccine. The coronavirus vaccine is developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca and manufactured by Serum Institute of India
Under the deal, Bangladesh will import 3 crore doses of SARS-Cov-2 AZD 1222 (Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine) from Serum in the next six months.
On January 18, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said Bangladesh would receive the first consignment of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine on January 25 or 26.
"As per the guideline of the World Health Organization, we will vaccinate those first who are working with risks. Also, elderly people will get more priority. People below the age of 18 will not get the vaccine," Health Minister Zahid Maleque said.
"The government is also in talks with Russia, China and others to collect more vaccines."
On January 14, Maleque said, "Bangladesh can now store up to 150 million vaccines. So, there will not be any problem when 40-50 million doses come from India."
"Each government hospital has been prepared to preserve 425,000 doses. Another 71,000 doses can be stored in the five-six ice freezers at the hospitals."
"The Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) will strictly monitor the vaccination process to prevent irregularities. A 'vaccine bulletin' will be published regularly by the Health Ministry," the Minister said.
Around 42,000 health workers are being trained for vaccination and an app for vaccine registration and distribution is in the final stage of completion under the ICT Ministry.