Bangladesh opts for China’s vaccine

Decision comes as India has delayed delivery of Covishield vaccine in recent weeks

Bangladesh will receive a major consignment of China-made vaccine doses for the pandemic which will arrive on Wednesday. This will be the first time that Bangladesh will receive the Chinese vaccine in such a large quantity since the beginning of the pandemic last year as India has delayed delivery of Covishield vaccine in recent weeks.

“China is dedicated to international vaccine cooperation. It’s the latest outcome of China-Bangladesh anti-pandemic cooperation,” said China’s Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming in a press conference announcing that the Sinopharm vaccine will arrive in Dhaka this week. Sinopharm is among the few globally recognised vaccines that are cleared for emergency use by the World Health Organisation.

Bangladesh and China have been in dialogue on vaccine for COVID-19 from the beginning of the pandemic but differences had grown over the funding of the vaccine last year. Dhaka began sourcing Covishield vaccine from Pune’s Serum Institute of India earlier this year but had to diversify for Sinopharm as the SII has delayed the delivery of at least two million doses that Bangladesh has already purchased from the vaccine manufacturer.

The announcement by the Chinese ambassador in Dhaka came in the backdrop of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s message of condolence to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.

“She conveyed condolences and prayers for victims of this unprecedented devastation taking place in India due to COVID-19 pandemic and pledged to combat the pandemic together with all-out support from Bangladesh,” said a statement from the Government of Bangladesh.

Quad issue

The Chinese ambassador however raised the issue of “Quad” initiative consisting of the U.S., India, Australia and Japan and urged Bangladesh not to join it. He described ‘Quad’ as a “narrow purposed geopolitical clique” and said Bangladesh should stay away from it as it would not benefit Dhaka.

“History has proved again and again such partnership surely damages our neighbours’ own social, economic development and people’s wellbeing,” Ambassador Li said.

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