India’s vaccine gift is proof of strong ties: Bangladesh FM

  • Staff Correspondent,
    Published: 2021-01-21 21:28:46 BdST


India’s gift of two million doses of the coronavirus vaccine to Bangladesh exemplifies the strong bilateral relations, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen says.

“Today is a historic day,” he announced during a ceremony to mark the formal handover of vaccines from Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami at the state guesthouse Pamda in Dhaka on Thursday.

Besides the gift doses, Bangladesh is purchasing 30 million more shots of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine from India. These doses are expected to arrive later this month.

“We are grateful to the government and the people of India for the vaccines,” Momen said.

“It is a testament to the strong relationship Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have built.”

The consignment of the gift doses arrived at the Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka earlier in the day.

Momen noted that Hasina emphasised cooperation to fight the pandemic from the beginning. He believes all countries need such cooperation and partnership as Bangladesh and India practise.

“Bangladesh will begin the mass inoculation as a frontrunner while many developed countries are yet to start the vaccination. And we thank the government of India for this,” the foreign minister said.

Health Minister Zahid Maleque said, “India helped us amid the pandemic crisis by delivering us vaccines the same way they aided us during the Liberation War… We will combat all crisis together.”

“We are hoping that the contract with Serum Institute will proceed as planned. I ask the Indian government to take care of the execution of this process so that we may get the vaccines in time,” Maleque said.

On Bangladesh’s vaccination plans, he said, “We are supposed to get five million doses every month over the next six months. Another shipment of five million doses will arrive this month. If we get it, we will have seven million doses in our hands. With that, we will be able to inoculate 3.5 million people.”

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam said, “Over the last year we’ve observed the Indian government’s “neighbours first” foreign policy. Through the arrival of the vaccines, they’ve once again proved their commitment to that policy.”

Bringing up the government’s ‘success’ in combating the coronavirus crisis, he said, “According to Bloomberg, Bangladesh tops South Asian countries in battling coronavirus and ranks among the first 20 countries in the world in the fight. I thank all employees of the health ministry and all health workers at the grassroots level.”

High Commissioner Doraiswami said the two million doses arrived in the wake of the Hasina-Modi talks at a virtual summit.

He noted that India has supplied the vaccines to Bangladesh just days after kicking off their vaccination drive “so that our friend can also ensure the immunity of their people at the same time”.

India gives “utmost priority” to its relations with Bangladesh in its “neighbours first” policy, according to him.

The two million doses India sent as a gift was the highest number of vaccines the country sent to any of its neighbours, Doraiswami pointed out.