Dhaka turned towards India for vaccine after China asked Bangladesh to share clinical trials’ cost
Bangladesh has turned to India for the supply of COVID vaccine after China openly asked Dhaka to share the costs of clinical trials of Sinovac.
The effectiveness of the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine is still not clear and amidst these questions over the vaccine China asked Dhaka to share the cost of clinical trials of Sinovac manufactured drug in the SAARC country. Hence Bangladesh decided to turn to India for help. Bangladesh seeks supply of Serum Institute of India (SII)’s Covishield vaccine.
On January 21, India gifted 2 million doses of Covishield vaccine to Dhaka and facilitated a commercial contract of 30 million doses with the Pune based SII. During the virtual summit on December 17, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured the Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina that vaccines would be made available to Bangladesh as and when produced in India. This gift fulfilled Modi’s assurances.
Bangladesh and India have been cooperating in the field of Covid-19 vaccine including Phase III testing, distribution, co-production and delivery in Bangladesh.
Sri Lanka and Nepal has also expressed their nervousness over the Chinese vaccine, to their Indian interlocutors. The demand for the Indian vaccine has increased as small countries which are far from India, are also seeking India’s help. On January 22, the Prime Minister of Barbados wrote a letter to PM Modi for the supply of 200,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine with the proviso of purchasing half of the doses. The request was approved by India.
According to the diplomats in Dhaka and Delhi, ‘Around October 2020, the Chinese wanted to sign a contract with the Sheikh Hasina government to supply CoronaVac vaccines. One of the terms of the contract was that Dhaka had to share the cost of the clinical trials. When Dhaka refused to share the cost of the trials, the Chinese company said that Bangladesh could not be an exception to not sharing costs as Sinovac was putting the same conditions for countries in which clinical trials were conducted and as a precursor to jab supplies.’
After this condition put by China, Dhaka turned to India and joined hands with SII. The Modi Government did the facilitation for commercial supply of 30 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Three million doses of commercial supplies have already landed in Dhaka.
A total of 5 million doses of the corona vaccine have been rolled out by India to 7 countries in the neighbourhood.