- Bangladesh will receive 2.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine from the United States.
- As the number of infections continues to rise, Bangladesh entered a strict lockdown on Monday.
- The vaccine is expected to be delivered this weekend.
A White House official told AFP that the United States began shipping 2.5 million doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine to Bangladesh on Tuesday because the South Asian country is facing a new wave of infections.
The official, who asked not to be named, said: “Because the United States promises to play a leading role in ending epidemics everywhere, 2.5 million doses of Moderna vaccine will begin to be shipped to Bangladesh.”
Explaining the urgency, delivery is expected to be completed this week.
Bangladesh, neighbouring India, began a strict lockdown on Monday in response to the spiralling delta virus infection. People are confined at home, offices are closed, traffic is closed, and security forces enforce it.
The South Asian country with a population of about 170 million recorded nearly 6,000 cases last Friday.
Authorities said that areas close to the Indian border were particularly affected, and hospitals in Khulna and Rajshahi were overwhelmed.
In explaining how the country entered the emergency list, a White House official said that Bangladesh had “increased 55% of cases in a few weeks and this was mainly caused by the Delta variant”.
President Joe Biden declared that the United States is the world’s vaccine “arsenal” in the Covid-19 war.
This role reflects America’s pharmaceutical prowess, but it also reflects Biden’s emphasis on restoring Washington’s leadership position around the world after Donald Trump’s stormy and often chaotic years.
U.S. officials deny that they are competing with autocratic China and Russia for “vaccine diplomacy”, which use domestically produced vaccines to fill the supply vacuum in underdeveloped regions during the pandemic.
Like many other countries, Bangladesh desperately seeks more vaccines and is not picky about their sources.
Health Minister Zahid Malik stated in May that the country hopes to buy 50 million doses from China National Pharmaceutical Group.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said after meeting with the Russian ambassador this month that it also hopes to purchase 5 million satellites.
The White House pointedly stated that its vaccine shipments-mainly manufactured through the World Health Organization’s Covax program-are free in all senses.
The official said:
We are not sharing these doses for benefits or for concessions. There are no conditions attached to our vaccine. Our only goal in doing this is to save lives.
The Biden administration has pledged to donate US$2 billion to Covax and purchase 500 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for the African Union and 92 poorer countries.
At the recent G7 summit in the UK, the US partners agreed to donate another 500 million doses.
The White House official said: “Ending this epidemic requires eliminating it worldwide.”
“This is a unique moment in history that needs American leadership.”
In addition, by the end of June, approximately 80 million doses of vaccine supplied by the United States had been designated for foreign distribution.
The White House said earlier on Monday that 2 million doses of Pfizer vaccine are currently being shipped to Peru and 2.5 million doses of Moderna vaccine will be shipped to Pakistan.