Friday, May 27 2022, 9:28 pm

Bangladesh calls for affordable access to coronavirus vaccines

Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN Rabab Fatima has highlighted the need for making the Covid-19 vaccines available, affordable, and distributing those equitably to all countries that need those most.

“A fair equity principle is needed to ensure this,” she said adding that developments in regard to various vaccine candidates are undoubtedly very encouraging.

Ambassador Fatima stressed that a strong global commitment and collaboration to treat Covid-19 vaccine as a ‘global public good’ is absolutely essential. 

She was speaking at a virtual conversation co-hosted by Lord Tariq Ahmad, United Kingdom Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the United Nations, and Ambassador Elizabeth Cousens, President & CEO, United Nations Foundation on Wednesday, said a media release on Thursday. 

The meeting titled, ‘Towards an equitable framework for the research, development, and delivery of Covid-19 vaccines’ was briefed by Kate O’Brien, Director, Immunization, Vaccines, and Biologicals, WHO and Marie-Ange Saraka-Yao, Managing Director, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance on the approaches towards universal access to potential Covid-19 vaccines.

Asserting that the Covid-19 pandemic is a stark reminder that the world is interconnected, Ambassador Fatima mentioned that the international community has a stake in addressing this global public health challenge together. 

“If  we want to prevent a recurrence, we need to prepare, prevent, and recover together, with effective global outreach.”

Emphasizing the importance of vaccines in the pandemic response and future prevention, and as a way to hasten economic recovery, she acknowledged the great job done so far by the Oxford’s Jenner Institute team led by Prof. Sarah Gilbert. 

She also expressed the hope that the third phase of the vaccine trial which is due to start next month will be successful in developing an effective and safe vaccine. 

Referring to the commitment made by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a virtual Vaccine Summit held in London last month, Ambassador Fatima reiterated Bangladesh’s support to ACT accelerator and COVAX facility initiatives undertaken by WHO, Gavi, and other private sector partners.  

Highlighting the presence of a well-developed pharmaceutical industry in Bangladesh, she mentioned that, “After  meeting our large domestic demands, these companies are exporting medicines to 145 countries, including the regulated markets of the USA, the EU, UK, Singapore and other OECD countries.”

Underling their strength and capacity in producing vaccines which are double the current demand, Ambassador Fatima said Bangladeshi pharma companies will be able to produce Covid-19 vaccines for global distribution of Intellectual Property rights are waived and necessary technology is shared. 

The briefers discussed how to mobilize political and financial investment inequitable approaches to COVID-19, including the ACT Accelerator for therapeutics and the COVAX Facility for global pooling and risk-sharing. 

WHO and Gavi will start working to find out modalities for procurement and incentivizing differential market access for high and low-and middle-income countries. 

A total of 2 billion doses of vaccines are estimated to be needed globally by the end of 2021.

Lord Ahmad reiterated the commitment of the British government to the equitable distribution of vaccines and treatment of Covid-19 for the global people, and in particular for the people of the South Asia region. 

He mentioned that his government has already authorized 760 million British Pounds in funding for Covid-19 initiatives. 

A large number of Permanent Representatives to the United Nations, diplomats, representatives of various international organizations, the private sector, and civil society organizations attended the meeting.

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