Everything started when the first patient was identified with Covid-19 on 31 December 2019, in Wuhan China. From that point forward, the world is encountering a phenomenal emergency. Coronavirus has been marked by some as an “incredible equalizer”, as the infection has influenced individuals from each circle of life, over the world. Nonetheless, up until now, affluent countries have the most noteworthy numbers of reported cases: the USA tops the list, followed by Spain, Italy, Germany, the UK and France. Initially, developing countries were nearly doing well in terms of fighting against Covid-19.
However, now in developing countries, also the virus is growing exponentially. The consequence is the same for each country; thousands have died, the health care system and economy have been crippled, many lost their jobs and so on. There is no denying that Bangladesh is the second most affected country in South Asia following India. Bangladesh has registered more than three hundred thousand COVID cases, more than four thousand dead, and no fewer than two hundred thousand recoveries. Across the world, everyone is eagerly waiting for the most desirable vaccine or medicine that would bring this pandemic to an end. Bangladesh is also no exception to that.
Recently, the Bangladesh government has greenlit the late-stage trial of a potential Chinese vaccine developed by Sinovac. The vaccine will be tested on health professionals, including doctors, nurses and other health workers. As per the initial plan, the vaccine will be tested on 4,200 volunteers under the supervision of the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh or better known as icddr,b.
One the other hand, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla in his recent visit to Bangladesh has assured that India will provide the vaccine to Bangladesh on a priority basis once it is ready. India’s Serum Institute has already signed a deal with British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca which has partnered with the University of Oxford in Covid-19 vaccine development. Till the date, Oxford’s vaccine has been considered as the most potential among other vaccines that are still on the pipeline. Therefore, Bangladesh has enough reasons to be happy about it. There is no denying that Sringla’s statement is an indication of continuing a strong bilateral relationship between Bangladesh and India.
It is good to see that Bangladesh is making sure not to pull all its eggs in one basket. Due to their geopolitical interests, both China and India have assured that Bangladesh will get the vaccine on a priority basis. After the diplomatic efforts of India and China for the trial of the corona vaccine in Bangladesh, the government has finally permitted China for the first trial. Since China has been allowed to run the trial first, that doesn’t mean that a chance will not be given to India. It is predicted that whenever India offers, Bangladesh will provide them with a chance to trial.
Diplomats believe that this has paved the way for getting the vaccine from both countries once it’s ready. China has promised to give one lakh ten thousand doses to Bangladesh for free. It is learned that China will provide adequate vaccines to meet the needs of the large population of Bangladesh. It will be priced through mediation to ensure that the government and the people can afford it. They will transfer the technology of vaccine production by providing a license to a pharmaceutical company in Bangladesh. it is true that this is a sign of goodwill in China during Bangladesh’s crisis moment.
Since it is not sure which vaccine will eventually prove effective, Bangladesh will need to liaise with other potential vaccine-producing countries and reach an understanding of getting their vaccines once those are approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). Bangladesh should have diversified possible sources of vaccine and must keep all the channels open. By relying only on India or China, Bangladesh may fall behind in the race to get the vaccine in time.
Bangladesh also needs to be vigilant about maintaining a balanced relationship with India and China amid vaccine diplomacy. After Shringla’s recent visit to Dhaka, foreign minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen said that the relationships with China and India couldn’t be compared. He termed Bangladesh’s relation with India as ‘rock solid’ while he emphasized on the fact that economic issues mainly fixed Bangladesh’s ties with China.
Photo credit: Reuters
News source: The Daily Observer