Health Minister Zahid Maleque, now in New York to attend the 77th UN General Assembly (UNGA), has asked the developed countries to help Bangladesh in its efforts to produce Covid-19 vaccines locally.
In an interview with UNB at Lotte New York Palace Hotel the minister said the government has already bought lands to set up the vaccine plants. Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) have also been signed with some American companies in this regard, reports UNB.
“Till now, we’ve provided vaccines to our citizens with jabs purchased from the international market. But now we’ve decided to become a vaccine-sufficient country. We’ve already bought some lands for setting up the plants and some memorandums of understanding (MoU) have already been signed,” said the minister.
Asked about the countries with which the MoUs have been signed, Zahid said that the government has inked deals with some American companies who are experts in the field of vaccine production technologies.
Replying to a question, the health minister said that Bangladesh will receive the assistance on a government to government (G2G) basis.
“Health has been an important issue during this year’s UNGA session as the UN member states couldn’t meet for the last two years due to Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermaths. Issues like economic damage during the pandemic and weakness of the health sector of various countries have been widely discussed during the UN session,” Zahid said in the interview on Friday.
Vaccine distribution during the pandemic had been unequal. People of the rich countries were vaccinated more than people of the poor countries. Besides, if a section of the society remains unvaccinated, those who are vaccinated will again fall prey to Covid-19. As a result, the vaccine issue received special attention during this year’s UN session, added Zahid.
During the interview, the minister added that all the countries joining the UN session were unequivocal in acknowledging that the developing countries must have the know-hows of vaccine production.
“Emphasis was given on Covid-19 tests. Many countries couldn’t afford enough testing for their populace due to lacking the much-needed laboratory testing systems. At the UN session, rich countries have pledged to help the underdeveloped and developing countries in building testing facilities,” added Zahid.
Asked about how other countries viewed Bangladesh in terms of Covid-19 management, the minister said that Bangladesh was lauded for effectively dealing with the deadly virus.
“Currently, we have a total of 900 Covid-19 testing centres where people can test themselves free of cost. We’ve also vaccinated millions of people from almost every age group. Our mortality rate was low, and we also didn’t face any economic downturn during the pandemic. All these factors have garnered praises from the other countries present during the UN session,” Zahid concluded.