Russia agrees to co-produce its vaccine in Bangladesh: Momen

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen
BSS file photo

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen on Monday said that Russia agreed to go into co-production of its Sputnik V Covid vaccine in Bangladesh apart from exporting the jabs.

“Things are at final stage,” Momen told journalists at his residence, adding that Russia agreed on co-production in bottling and finishing of the vaccine.

He, however, said Moscow will not share the vaccine-making technology until other countries do it.

The foreign minister discussed the vaccine issue with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Friday. The meeting took place on the side-lines of the international conference on “Central & South Asia: regional connectivity, challenges and opportunity” held in Tashkent.

Momen said the scope of negotiation with Russia is limited. “Either you take it or don’t take it.”

He said no private agency has been appointed in Bangladesh regarding Russia's Sputnik V vaccine but mentioned that Gonoshasthaya Kendra (GSK) founder and trustee Zafrullah Chowdhury has met him recently.

“Listen, Mr Zafrullah met me. After the meeting, we were very excited. He was saying he will give vaccine doses from Russia within seven days. And the price will be half of what we pay to purchase. So, naturally we’re very happy,” the foreign minister said.

However, the Bangladesh Ambassador in Moscow informed them that no private agent was appointed, he added.

“Later, we heard that the person who got the agency is an American. He’ll (Zafrullah) bring (vaccines) from him. I don’t know. Later, the health ministry didn’t work on it,” said Momen.

He said they see a lot of such proposals coming from many persons including journalists, artists, singers and intellectuals.

Momen further said, “We told you before this. Everyone says that they have vaccines and they can provide. They will bring it to Bangladesh once permission is given. It’s a matter to be dealt with by the health ministry. Whatever requests and proposals we receive, we pass it to the health ministry.”

He also gave an overview of the coronavirus vaccines and thanked Russian foreign minister for standing beside Bangladesh in all difficult times, especially their direct support in Bangladesh’s War of Liberation.

The foreign minister said he had discussed with S Jaishankar, Indian external affairs minister, on Covid and vaccination situation in both the countries.

“He (Jaishankar) said you’ll get the vaccine doses once the situation gets improved in India,” said the foreign minister adding that Jaishankar could not give any timeframe about the resumption of vaccine supply.