We wholeheartedly agree with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's call for Covid 19 vaccines to be declared as a global public good that needs to be reached to all countries of the world. The PM relayed this message during a recorded speech aired in the plenary session of a conference of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA). She also said that nations must work together to help organisations such as the UN to be effective in fulfilling global medical and vaccine requirements.
In this regard, we also commend the government's vigilance in terms of finding alternative vaccine supplies in the face of India blocking its export of vaccines from the Serum Institute of India (SII) to meet domestic requirements. A five-member committee led by the director general of the Drug Administration was formed on Monday for this purpose, and they are supposed to submit a report to the PM by April 26. It is encouraging to know about the Sinopharm's offer of providing the country with 60 lakh doses and Bangladesh's tentative agreement with Russia to produce the Sputnik V vaccine locally.
These are all very welcome initiatives in this uncertain time of the global Covid-19 vaccine supply shortage, especially for countries such as Bangladesh. With some vaccine-producing countries limiting or even banning the export of their vaccines so that their own population is inoculated first, people in countries that cannot produce the vaccine have become much more vulnerable to increasing infection and death rates. There are, for instance, concerns about the supply of the second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine in Bangladesh. The government must ensure that those who are scheduled for the second dose of this particular vaccine can access it on time to ensure its efficacy.
If countries that are capable of producing the vaccines continue to only look after their own, instead of also helping other more vulnerable countries become vaccinated, then there is no way that the virus can be fully eliminated. This is a global health crisis and requires cooperation of all countries of the world.
We believe that now is the time to prioritise equitable distribution of the vaccines for the global population over all else, including removing the barriers of intellectual property rights on the vaccines. As the PM said in her speech, global and regional partnerships need to be strengthened in a coordinated manner so that these challenges can be addressed effectively. We strongly believe that the Covid-19 vaccines should be declared as public goods. Each person must receive their due doses of the vaccine, regardless of the economic or political state of their home country.