Neighbourhood First: Bangladesh to get priority when COVID-19 vaccine is ready, says MEA

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Updated: Sep 03, 2020 8:29 PM

Responding to a question by Financial Express Online, the official spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Anurag Srivastava said, “As a close neighbour and a strategic partner, we have assured Bangladesh that it will get high priority in the supply once the vaccine is ready."

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India is known globally to produce over 60% of the world’s vaccine. (Representational Image; Courtesy: Reuters)Bangladesh Company Beximco Pharmaceuticals Limited has tied up with Serum Institute of India to produce Covid-19 vaccine; this follows the recent visit of the Indian Foreign Secretary to Dhaka.

While welcoming the tie-up between two enterprises, responding to a question by Financial Express Online, the official spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Anurag Srivastava said, “As a close neighbour and a strategic partner, we have assured Bangladesh that it will get high priority in the supply once the vaccine is ready.”

He also confirmed that the issue of COVID-19 was discussed when the Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other top officials in the neighbouring country.

As has been reported earlier, though the Chinese have been allowed to conduct trials, there has been no commercial agreement signed between the local firms in Bangladesh.

India is known globally to produce over 60% of the world’s vaccine. “During the visit of the Foreign Secretary to Dhaka, based on the strategic ties between the two countries, it was on the agenda to keep the requirements of that country on priority,” a Dhaka-based source stated.

The testing for three vaccines was in different stages and once the scientific community gives its concurrence then the production will start on a large scale. “The plan to reach this vaccine to every person in the shortest possible time,” explained a source.

According to the Dhaka-based source quoted above, “In his meeting with FS Shringla, Foreign Secretary Momen had indicated that Bangladesh was ready for collaborating in the development of the COVID vaccine and to participate in trials.”

Update on Connectivity – PIWTT

As has been reported by Financial Express Online earlier, a trial run took off today from Daukandion and is expected to conclude at Sonamura on Saturday (September 5, 2020), in the presence of the chief minister of Tripura and India’s High Commissioner to Bangladesh.

“This initiative with Bangladesh, will help in giving a boost to the bilateral trade with the neighbouring country as well as will help in enhancing the connectivity with our North-Eastern region,” said Anurag Srivastava.

The connectivity through inland waterways will be a great help for the traders and business communities of both countries as it will not only be economical but also, faster and cleaner.

The PIWTT between the two countries was inked in 1972 and was to provide inland waterways connectivity. Besides better connectivity with the North-Eastern Region, it will help in trade. According to the MEA, between 2019-2020, almost 3.5 million MT of cargo was transported on the protocol routes between the two sides.

In the summer this year the 2nd addendum to PIWTT was signed and two new protocol routes were added. And of particular interest is the Sonamura – Daukandi route, because for the first time Tripura will be connected with the National Waterways of India through Bangladesh.

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