Bangladesh has agreed to join a new platform floated by China to get coronavirus vaccines in case of emergency needs.

Four other countries—Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka--- are also in the platform styled ‘emergency vaccine storage facility for covid for South Asia’.

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen told Prothom Alo that the platform is not an alliance.

“Vaccines would be collected from the facility based on needs. We’re calling it South Asia co-operation,” the minister told newsmen.

“We’ve now built a cooperation with China and they will provide us vaccines soon,” Momen said.

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He said China would initially provide 600,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine as a gift. The draft of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has already been prepared in this end.

The foreign minister also said Bangladesh is taking assistance from Russia to manufacture Covid-19 vaccine. An MoU would be signed regarding the matter.

Foreign minister Momen said Russia is sharing the technology on condition that Bangladesh would not share the technology to anyone else, which Bangladesh agreed.

Russia would hand over the technology to any pharmaceutical company in Bangladesh. The process might take 2-3 months, Momen added.

Serum Institute of India (SII) delivered 7 million doses of vaccine as of February. Although Serum was supposed to deliver 5 million doses each month as per a tripartite agreement, Bangladesh did not receive any consignment after February.

As India has seen a massive surge in Covid cases in recent times, uncertainty looms for Bangladesh over the possibility of getting the vaccines as per the agreement.

Meanwhile, Indian high commissioner Vikram K Doraiswami said they are trying to ensure that Bangladesh gets as much vaccine as possible while maintaining that there is a shortage of Covid-19 vaccine in India itself.

“Indian media outlets are reporting about a shortage (of vaccine supply). There is a deficiency of vaccine even in the big cities of India,” Doraiswami told newsmen on Thursday while reaching Bangladesh from Delhi through Agartala-Akhaura border.

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