Momen calls Jaishankar for COVID vaccine as India halts export

Bangladesh has contacted the Indian government for COVID-19 vaccine after the Serum Institute of India failed to send purchased doses due to a ban on export.

Published : 18 May 2021, 05:25 PM
Updated : 18 May 2021, 05:25 PM

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen talked about the issue in a phone conversation with India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Tuesday.

Momen requested Jaishankar to send the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca doses fast, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Jaishankar said the Indian government is aware of the overall situation in Bangladesh, including the vaccine crisis, according to the statement.

The government launched the mass inoculation programme on Feb 7 with the AstraZeneca vaccine COVISHIELD, manufactured by Serum.

Bangladesh has received 10.2 million doses of COVISHIELD so far, including 3.2 million doses as gift. The first and second doses of the vaccine are spaced eight weeks apart.

But India has lately halted export of the vaccine as it is struggling with its own inoculation drive after being hit by a devastating second wave of infections.

Bangladesh later halted administering the first doses to save the shots for the second dosing.

Although the government has taken steps to buy vaccines from Russia and China, it needs at least 1.5 million AstraZeneca shots to complete the second doses on citizens who have received the first dose. 

In this situation, Bangladesh has also asked the US and Canada for AstraZeneca shots to meet the immediate need.

Momen sought Jaishankar’s help to secure enough doses from the US, the foreign ministry said.

Jaishankar said he would request Washington to send the vaccine to Bangladesh, according to the ministry.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher