Countries like Bangladesh that have the capability of producing vaccines should be allowed and supported in producing those, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has said.
He made the proposal while delivering his speech at the Asia Pacific high-level conference on Belt and Road Cooperation on “Promoting Cooperation on Combating the Pandemic for Sustainable Recovery” held virtually on Wednesday night.
Wang Yi, State Councillor and Foreign Minister of China, chaired the meeting.
Under the robust leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Dr Momen said, Bangladesh achieved success in managing the first wave of coronavirus.
“However, we are facing difficulty in the second wave due to shortage of vaccines,” he said.
Despite all good intentions, their actions will go in vain if the availability, access, and distribution of necessary finance are not in place for recovery from this crisis, Dr Momen said.
“Given the scale of the threat posed by COVID19, we need a globally harmonised structure of financial infrastructure,” he said.
In his five-point proposal, Dr Momen sought rapid information sharing nationally and globally through digital means e.g. live data, in a time-sensitive manner; taking globally united and coordinated efforts to combat against the common enemy; stronger and concerted advocacy with the vaccine producing states to strengthen COVAX by WHO, while ensuring ‘free to choose’; and to ensure that no one is left behind, to declare the Covid-19 vaccines a global public good, and to implement its distribution through strong international cooperation.
Although the Covid-19 pandemic has not spared any country from its devastating impacts, the least developed and developing countries are the most affected, he said.
“This is happening while the same groups of countries are already grappling with the adverse ramifications of climate change.”
The Foreign Minister said timely sharing of transparent and correct information at the national, regional and global level is of the essence in abating the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis.
This calls for fortification of digital infrastructure, both intra and inter-nations, for smooth transmission of critical data on issues inter-alia country experience, management, and best-proven interventions, he said.
Such data sharing would help in the augmenting country and region-specific information tools for better policy devising, Dr Momen said.
He said vaccines remain the centrepiece in the effective fight against the pandemic. “Bangladesh believes that vaccines should be declared as a global public good.”
He said it is encouraging to see countries like China playing important roles in the availability of vaccines.
“The COVAX initiative by WHO is highly laudable. Thus, to realise the objectives of such multilateral efforts, we need transitioning to non-linear, big data-driven, and prioritised supply chain systems to ensure availability, access, and affordability of vaccines to build back better and stronger socio-economically,” he said.
Dr Momen said infrastructure will play a critical role in this regard. “Bangladesh is ready and willing to work with the BRI partners to develop sustainable infrastructures for the benefit of the peoples in Asia-Pacific.”
“At the same time, through our Chairmanship of the 48-member Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) and V20, we are going the extra mile in ensuring a climate-resilient recovery from this pandemic not only for ourselves but also for the whole membership CVF,” he said.