Chinese COVID-19 vaccine trials become geo-political issue in Bangladesh

Chinese COVID-19 vaccine trials become geo-political issue in Bangladesh

The Bangladesh government initially approved the trial of the Sinovac SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for 4,200 healthcare staffers in the country.

It was intended to enable Bangladesh to receive the life-saving anti-COVID-19 vaccines rapidly as well as improve Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical research capability.

The Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) approved the trial of the vaccine developed by the Chinese company after reviewing its particulars over a month.

Unfortunately the Health Ministry reportedly overturned the trial two days later.

The matter would be now decided in consultation with the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on COVID-19.

Local media sources such as the prominent English-language newspaper The Daily Star stated through its medical scientists sources that the vaccine trial has become a geopolitical issue.

Medical professionals as well as Bangladeshi citizens have become frustrated with the lack of coordination, widespread corruption and inefficiency in Bangladesh’s healthcare sector.

The COVID-19 exposed the long mismanaged healthcare sector of the country.

Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical sector on the other hand is a very successful industry exporting to dozens of countries around the world including Australia, the European Union and the United States.

The sector is easily capable of producing and distributing large quantities of life saving vaccines if the government ensures proper management of the vaccine trials according to medical scientists of the country.

The geopolitical angle is a first in Bangladesh’s trouble ridden healthcare sector. Observers believe India could be creating pressure against the Bangladesh government to disallow the vaccines.

This is not the first time India interfered in critical sectors of Bangladesh. They successfully thwarted an attempt by China to build a major deep sea port in Sonadia Island. The Indians also tried to buy a 49% share in the Dhaka Stock Exchange but that failed.

Bangladesh’s relations with India are at an all-time low now. Many Bangladeshis question the sincerity of India regarding maintaining good neighbourly relations.

In recent weeks foreign writers have lambasted the Indian diplomats for having vice regal attitude when posted in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has already cancelled all ministerial visits to India and the Prime Minister declined multiple requests by India’s high commissioner to meet with her in person. To this end the Indian High Commissioner was replaced after her abject failure.

If the Chinese vaccine trial is not approved by the Bangladesh government it could lead to problems between Bangladesh and China. This is one of the pre-planned manoeuvres by Indian agencies to outflank the Chinese efforts in assisting Bangladesh recover quickly from the COVID-19 crisis.

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