Bangladesh has requested Canada to provide two million shots of AstraZeneca vaccine on an emergency basis for inoculating people with the second dose, as the prospect of getting vaccines from India is now very low.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen made the request to Canadian High Commissioner in Bangladesh Benoit Préfontaine when the latter called on the minister at the foreign ministry today.
Stating the emergency need of 1.6 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to provide second doses in Bangladesh, he underscored that this is currently a high priority for Bangladesh.
Bangladesh and Beximco Pharmaceuticals signed a deal with the Serum Institute in India to procure 30 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine but only 10.2 million doses were received from India, which has halted export of vaccines because of its high demand amid severe Covid-19 infections.
Referring to a recent statement of Canadian Procurement Minister Anita Anand that Canadian government might distribute excess stockpiles of AstraZeneca vaccine among developing countries, Momen urged the envoy to pursue the matter with his government so that Bangladesh receives at least two million doses on an emergency basis.
He also said such supply of vaccine should be directly sent to Bangladesh, as has been done for some other countries like Pakistan, rather than through the COVAX programme.
He also proposed that Canada may help vaccinating the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh separately.
Bangladesh is also trying to acquire vaccine from some other countries including China, Russia and the US.
In response, Canadian High Commissioner assured the minister of following up the request with his government.
Momen reiterated Bangladesh's expectation that Canada would extend Duty Free Quota Free (DFQF) access to Bangladeshi export products till 2027, and also would commence negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) or Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with Bangladesh soon.
He also reminded of Bangladesh's strong expectation that Nur Chowdhury, the convicted killer of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, will be returned to Bangladesh in the near future.
High Commissioner Préfontaine said that Canada would continue its humanitarian support for displaced Rohingyas and host communities at the same scale for next three years, as was reflected in their budgetary framework for next three years.
He also underscored that Canada is willing to enhance its economic cooperation with Bangladesh, including in areas of trade and investment.