Bangladesh will have to wait for some time to get the first commercial supply of vaccines from China, according to Ambassador Li Jiming.
“As per the first feedback I got from my colleagues in Beijing, the line is too long and you better not expect [commercial supply] before December,” he said.
“I said no, I need [it] as quickly as possible. Then I think I can make [it] much earlier than December but unfortunately not within the first half of this year,” Jiming said in an interaction with the Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh, or DCAB, on Monday.
The Bangladesh government gave the emergency-use authorisation to a vaccine from China's state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm “only a week ago”.
“So obviously, there is a long queue for the supply in the international market. Right now, Bangladesh is not very close to the first line,” he said.
The government-to-government cooperation is on the table and China is quite positive to provide supply to the market of Bangladesh, Jiming said.
On Apr 29, Bangladesh approved the emergency use of Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine amid a supply squeeze. The first shipment of 500,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine will arrive in Bangladesh “within two weeks”, Director General of Drug Administration Maj Gen Mahbubur Rahman said at the time.
This week, according to a bdnews24.com report, the World Health Organization approved for emergency use a COVID-19 vaccine from Sinopharm, bolstering Beijing's push for a bigger role in inoculating the world.
The vaccine, one of two main Chinese coronavirus vaccines that have been given to hundreds of millions of people in China and elsewhere, is the first developed by a non-Western country to win WHO backing.
“I got the approval from the Bangladesh government on the 30th of April, the last day of April. The beginning of May is the May Day holiday in China. So, you can imagine how wholeheartedly the embassy and my colleagues in China were working to secure these 500,000 vaccines to be available in two days from today,” he said.
In unusually candid remarks, Jiming mentioned how dithering by Bangladesh prevented efforts to explore the “possibility of commercial supply in various ways”.
Jiming mentioned that he “offered this kind gesture of the Chinese government” to give “some gift vaccines to Bangladeshi people as early as Feb 3 this year and it took three months for the Bangladesh government to approve it”.
“I hope that the Bangladesh government will be more effective, especially when we are talking about some real challenges like pandemic.”
“Right now, I can say that I will do my best for the commercial purchase.”