New Delhi: Bangladesh’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud on Monday said India has assured his country of more deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines “when the situation further betters here” and that Bangladesh understands India’s “local demands”.

Mahmud, who inaugurated the Bangabandhu Media Centre at the Press Club of India here, also said India tackled the second wave of COVID-19 effectively and the infection rate has come down from over 25 per cent to 2 per cent which is a “great achievement”.

The media centre, a first in a press club in India, has been set up with the support of the Bangladesh High Commission in India to mark the birth centenary of the founding President of Bangladesh, ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

“Under the leadership of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian PM Narendra Modi, the bilateral relationship has gone to a new height… This media centre will help strengthen the cultural ties and the people-to-people contact between the two countries,” he said at the event.

Bangladesh had entered into a deal with the Serum Institute of India (SII) to procure 30 million doses of vaccine.

In January, India gifted 3.2 million doses of domestically manufactured COVID-19 vaccine to Bangladesh as part of its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.

Later, under the agreement, Bangladesh received seven million doses in two consignments until February.

“The Indian government has assured us that they would provide vaccines that are in the contract…when the situation further betters here,” he told reporters.

He said Bangladesh understands the local demand (of vaccines) in India.

“Unfortunately, the second wave of COVID-19 hit India a few months ago. That’s why we did not get further deliveries. But I must register my thanks to the Indian government and SII. Also, India gifted us some vaccines as well,” he said.

“And, as you had a domestic demand, many people were dying at that time… so domestic demand definitely was the top priority,” Mahmud said.

“I see how effectively the government of India and the people of India have faced the second wave because the rate of infection has gone down to around 2 per cent from more than 25 per cent which is a great achievement,” Mahmud, who will be in India till September 8, added.

Asked if he’s going to raise the issue during his meetings with Indian ministers, Mahmud said he was not here for vaccines.

“I have not come for the vaccines… We understand your local demand and local complexities… India-Bangladesh relationship is not only (about) the vaccines. There are many other issues…we have a historical relationship. Our ties have strengthened over the last couple of years under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and PM Modi,” he said.

The minister said Bangladesh has got the AstraZeneca vaccine from Japan under Covax to administer the second dose to people who got their first dose from the SII.

“So, people who took the first vaccine (dose) of AstraZeneca… they are going to get (2nd dose of) AstraZeneca. So, that is not a problem,” the minister added.

Asked about the situation in Afghanistan, Mahmud said, “Stability in Afghanistan is important for stability in the South Asian region.”

“We are keeping an eye on the Afghanistan situation and closely monitoring it,” he added.

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