The cabinet yesterday expressed hope that Bangladesh would get the Covid-19 vaccine on a priority basis as the government was in touch with all countries and organisations trying to develop it.
This optimism was expressed at the cabinet meeting held virtually, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the Chair.
The PM joined the meeting through a video conference from the Gono Bhaban, while her cabinet colleagues got connected from the Bangladesh Secretariat.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said, "Detailed discussions were held on Covid-19 vaccine today [yesterday].... Bangladesh will get it on a priority basis relatively at a lower price. Not only that, our one or more pharmaceutical companies will also be able to produce vaccines."
The cabinet yesterday also declared March 7 as "Historic Day" instead of the "National Historic Day" in a bid to observe the day nationally and internationally, commemorating the historic March 7 speech of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Talking about Covid-19 vaccine, Anwarul said different countries across the world were in a race to develop vaccines since the outbreak of the virus. "Right from the beginning, we have been maintaining contacts regularly with all those who are in the race to produce it."
He said Bangladesh would not allow any vaccine without having recognition of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Following the WHO recognition as the baseline, the health ministry, the departments concerned and some local pharmaceuticals are also in touch with those who are trying to develop the vaccine.
He said the government has kept aside Tk 600 crore under a project to procure Covid-19 vaccine.
"So, there will be no lack of funds to procure the vaccine. Bangladesh will collect it from wherever it will be available," the cabinet secretary added.
The Health Service Division briefed the cabinet about the latest update over the Covid-19 vaccine.
He said the PM in a video speech to the Global Vaccine Summit 2020, held in the UK on June 4, sought support from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI) in fighting the pandemic with new vaccines. "It [proposal] was accepted. So, Bangladesh is also recognised as an eligible country to get vaccine under GAVI," said Anwarul.
He said some people claimed that Bangladesh has missed the opportunity to get free Covid vaccines. "I think there is no scope for getting the vaccine free of cost. It's also unlikely that the vaccine would be developed before April next year."
Talking about Historic Day, the cabinet secretary said, "The cabinet approved a proposal placed by the cultural affairs ministry for declaring March 7 as the 'Historic Day' to observe the day nationally and internationally, commemorating the historic March 7 speech of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman."
But the day would not be a public holiday, he added.
Earlier on July 13, the cabinet had declared the March 7 as the "National Historic Day" in a bid to observe the day nationally.
About the decision, Anwarul said Bangabandhu's historic March 7 speech was actually the source of inspiration for the country's independence and the 1971 Liberation War. Later, the country's people spontaneously joined the war in the line with the guidelines given in the historic speech, he added.
He said the historic day also has importance in the international arena as Unesco included the March 7 speech of Bangabandhu in the Memory of the World Register.