Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Saturday said Japan will send more than three million doses of AstraZeneca COVID vaccine under COVAX facilities in phases.
“On behalf of Bangladesh, I would like to express our gratitude to Japan government and its people for the (vaccine) supply in this critical period,” he said.
The foreign minister made the remark after receiving 2,45,200 doses of Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine as the first consignment from the Japanese ambassador to Bangladesh Naoki Ito at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA), reports BSS.
Dr Momen said, earlier Japan said they would send 29 lakh doses of vaccine to Bangladesh but later they added 1.5 lakh more doses that now raised the total volume to around 30.5 lakh doses.
The foreign minister also revealed that the second consignment consisting nearly five lakh of doses of such vaccine will arrive here on Friday next.
Dr Momen said this consignment of vaccine is important for Bangladesh as around 1.5 million people are waiting for the second dose of this Oxford made vaccine.
Bangladesh has so far received 1.2 crore doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII).
The foreign minister said the government has already made a good lineup of getting more COVID-19 vaccines from different sources under COVAX along with commercial purchase to ensure steady supply of jabs for the countrymen.
“We hope there will be no shortage of vaccine in the country in next severer months,” he said.
COVAX, a global alliance, is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
However, the foreign minister said Bangladesh is looking forward to go for vaccine co-production in Bangladesh to vaccinate 80 percent of its population.
“We have to produce it (vaccine) locally … there is no other alternative. We will go for production soon,” he said.
Foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen and health service division secretary Lokman Hossin Mia were also present at the airport.
Meanwhile, in a letter sent to Foreign Minister of Japan MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Dr Momen thanked Japan for providing more than 3 million AstraZeneca vaccines to Bangladesh through the WHO-COVAX mechanism.
The Bangladesh foreign minister acknowledged with deep appreciation the continued assistance of Japan in facing the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh, including the direct budgetary support, a foreign ministry press release said.
“We urge all for a global and united response for containing this pandemic, ensuring availability of vaccines on a global scale and mobility of resources to stimulate the global economy.” Momen wrote to his Japanese counterpart.
The foreign minister lauded Japanese Prime Minister Suga’s leadership in hosting the Vaccine Summit on 02 June and committing vaccines and funds to combat the pandemic.
“As we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relation between our two friendly countries in 2022, both the countries are now working to upgrade Bangladesh-Japan relationship from a ‘Comprehensive Partnership’ to the ‘Strategic Partnership’ level” he said.
Reaffirming that Bangladesh considers Japan as a true and trusted friend and also a reliable development partner, Momen hoped that the ongoing COVID cooperation would further strengthen and deepen bilateral relation between Dhaka and Tokyo.
The foreign minster also wished the Tokyo Olympic Games a grand success.