Declare COVID vaccines ‘global public good’, says Hasina

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Desk report, Sept 23: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for COVID-19 vaccines to be categorised as a ‘global public good’ to strengthen the response to the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in the developing world.

In a video address to the White House Global COVID-19 Summit on Wednesday, Hasina outlined her government’s strategy to combat the pandemic while stressing the need to step up vaccination efforts.

“As of Sept 14, we have administered more than 35 million shots of the vaccine. We are planning to vaccinate 20 million people per month until 80 percent of our population is vaccinated by August 2022,” she said.

“For effective global vaccination, COVID-19 vaccines need to be declared as global public good. To guarantee universal access, local production of vaccines by developing countries and LDCs that have the capacity must be allowed.”

Hasina also highlighted Bangladesh’s ‘three-pronged approach’ to fight the pandemic. The South Asian nation emphasised “saving lives by allocating adequate medical facilities and resources, supporting livelihoods especially of the most vulnerable groups and bringing economic activities back on track as quickly as possible”.

“So far we have allocated 15.4 billion dollars stimulus packages, disbursed 166 million dollars to 4.4 million beneficiaries, including poor elderly, widows, disabled persons, and informal sector workers.”

In order to build forward better, Hasina said Bangladesh is turning its attention to inclusive growth policies with a focus on an improved healthcare system and social safety net programmes.

Sustainable economic recovery with an emphasis on innovation, job creation and investment along with climate resilience and transition to low-carbon development are also on the agenda, she added.

Hasina is currently in New York to join the 76th UN General Assembly.