Bangladesh will get priority access to COVID-19 vaccine: Shringla

Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has assured that Bangladesh will be prioritised when it comes to the distribution of Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate once it enters mass production in India.

Published : 19 August 2020, 01:36 PM
Updated : 19 August 2020, 01:36 PM

Shringla, who is in Dhaka on a brief visit, made the remarks after a meeting with his Bangladeshi counterpart Masud Bin Momen on Wednesday.

Developed in collaboration with British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, Oxford University’s vaccine candidate is leading the race for a vaccine seen as the only viable option to get the world out of the coronavirus pandemic.

The vaccine is undergoing final stage trials in different countries. India’s Serum Institute is also set to begin trials of the vaccine this week, the country’s media reported.

Asked about the matter, Shringla said, “Bangladesh has always been a priority for us.”

The foreign secretary emphasised that India produces 60 percent of the world’s vaccine and added, “When the vaccine is developed, all our friends, partners and neighbouring countries will have access to it.”

India is gearing up to produce the vaccine on a massive scale, according to Shringla.

“We are working on developing the vaccine which is in the trial stage. But we are at an advanced level.”

Meanwhile, Bangladesh has made a proposal to trial the COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the country, said Foreign Secretary Masud.

“We know that some vaccines are being developed and trialled in India as part of its efforts to control the ongoing COVID-19 situation.”

 “We have offered to assist them with the trial. We are ready to help.”

India’s reaction to the proposal has been positive according to Masud.

"They have also responded to the proposal by saying that the vaccines will be available, not only for India, but for us early on.”

"The pharmaceutical companies here also have the capacity to produce the vaccine. Therefore, they can also work on creating opportunities for collaboration and we've asked for their cooperation to this end."

Shringla arrival in Dhaka on Tuesday sparked a lot of speculation about the topics to be discussed during the tour.

According to media reports, Shringla has come to meet Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to convey a ‘special message’ from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to strengthen the ties between the two countries.

"It is very a sudden visit, very short visit. Yesterday I called on the honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh. The prime minister said she is not meeting anyone due to the COVID-19 situation. But the reason I came is because our prime minister (Narendra Modi) sent me here as there hasn't been much contact because of the pandemic.

"But the relationship must continue and we must continue to strengthen our bilateral relationship."

The Indian official also addressed his country's position on the ongoing Rohingya crisis. "We believe it is very important that we continue to take a position that facilitates the safe and dignified return of the Rohingya refugees. We will continue to work on it both in the UN Security Council and bilaterally.