Allow ‘capable’ countries to produce Covid vaccine

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has said that the countries like Bangladesh that have the capability of producing vaccines “should be allowed and be supported in producing vaccines”.

He made the comment on Thursday while making five proposals for Covid-19 recovery at the Asia Pacific High-level Conference on Belt and Road Cooperation on “Promoting Cooperation on Combatting the Pandemic for Sustainable Recovery”.

The other four proposals are: 1. Rapid information sharing nationally and globally through digital means e.g. live data, in a time-sensitive manner; 2.Taking globally united and coordinated efforts to combat against this common enemy; 3. Stronger and concerted advocacy with the vaccine producing states to strengthen COVAX by WHO, while ensuring ‘free to choose’; and 4. To ensure that no one is left behind, to declare the COVID19 vaccines as a global public good, and to implement its distribution through strong international cooperation.

 Bangladesh is trying to bring the technology of both Chinese and Russian vaccines to produce those in the country.

The foreign minister thanked Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi for hosting the conference at a time when the COVID19 pandemic is disrupting the lives and livelihoods across the globe.

 “In face of such a major threat to humanity, the call to regional and international cooperation is of utmost importance.”

 He said although the COVID19 pandemic has not spared any country from its devastating impacts, the least developed and developing countries are the most affected. This is happening while the same group of countries are already grappling with the adverse ramifications of climate change.

 “Timely sharing of transparent and correct information at the national, regional and global level is of the essence in abating the impacts of COVID19 crisis. This calls for fortification of digital infrastructure, both intra and inter-nations, for smooth transmission of critical data on issues inter-alia country experience, management, and best proven interventions. Such data sharing would help in augmenting country and region-specific information tools for better policy devising,” he said.  

 “Vaccines remain the centrepiece in the effective fight against the COVID19 pandemic. Bangladesh believes that the COVID19 vaccines should be declared as a global public good. It is encouraging to see countries like China playing important roles for the availability of vaccines. The COVAX initiative by WHO is highly laudable. Thus, to realise the objectives of such multilateral efforts, we need transitioning to non-linear, big data driven, and prioritised supply chain systems to ensure availability, access, and affordability of vaccines to build back better and stronger socio-economically.”

 The foreign minister said infrastructure will play a critical role in this regard. Bangladesh is ready and willing to work with the BRI partners to develop sustainable infrastructure for the benefit of the peoples in Asia-Pacific.

 “Under the robust leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh achieved success in managing the first wake of the pandemic. However, we are facing difficulty in the second wave due to shortage of vaccines. At the same time, through our Chairmanship of the 48-member Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) and V20, we are going the extra mile in ensuring a climate resilient recovery from this pandemic not only for ourselves but also for the whole membership of CVF,” he said.  

 “Despite all our good intentions, our actions will go in vain if the availability, access, and distribution of necessary finance is not in place for recovery from this crisis.”

 He said given the scale of threat posed by COVID19, “we need a globally harmonised structure of financial infrastructure.”