Connecting Regions of Asia.

India Clarifies Confusion Created By Serum Institute Chief

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Indian foreign secretary Harshvardhan Shringla , in a damage control mode, has assured Bangladesh of ‘early, constant and committed supply’ of Covid vaccines produced in the country.
His response became necessary after AP and Reuters quoted Serum Institute of India chief Adar Poonawalla as saying vaccines produced by SRI were ‘first meant for Indians’ and talked of an export ban on such vaccines at the moment.
That led to huge confusion in Bangladesh and a media furore because Dhaka has an agreement with Delhi for priority supply of the Astra Zeneca -Oxford developed Covid vaccine .
Poonawalla’s statement seemed to negate the agreement his SRI had signed with Bangladesh ‘s Beximco Pharma for expeditious supply of 30 million doses of anti Covid vaccine.
Media reports and social media posts projected Poonawalla’s statement as ‘ yet another example of Indian perfidy ‘ .  “See how unreliable India is’ screamed a Facebook post , one of thousands flooding the platform .
Shringla, a former High Commissioner to  Bangladesh, sought to assuage ruffled feathers by promising ‘priority supply’ of the Vaccine but only Bangladesh Pratidin carried this as an exclusive item.
” Other media did not carry the item because Shringla just  spoke to Pratidin. He should have issued a statement or a tweet for all to carry,” said an Awami League leader.
His government was naturally worried because of its dependence on India for the vaccine and its refusal to take the Chinese Sinovac vaccine .
The Chinese are mounting pressure to push Sinovac into neighbouring countries and India is in some kind of diplomatic competition with China on this issue.
So a delayed formal Indian response on the issue in Bangladesh was unnerving the Awami Leaguw which is accused by rivals of being ‘far too pro-Indian’ .
After Shringla came Poonawalla’s response — ” I would like to clarify two matters; as there is confusion in the public domain, exports of vaccines are permitted to all countries and a joint public statement clearing up any recent miscommunication with regards to Bharat Biotech will be made.”
The Serum Institute chief has upset Bharat Biotech when he said there were only three real vaccines — Astra Zeneca’s, Pfizer’s and Moserna’s — and the rest were ‘only water’.
That upset Bharat Biotech whose anti Covid vaccine is entirely developed in India.

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