Days after Bangladesh rejected the Chinese coronavirus vaccine over the efficacy issues in favor of vaccines developed by Indian companies, the Communist Party of China has taken offense and has now blamed ‘India’s influence’ behind Bangladesh’s decision to dump their vaccine.
The Chinese government mouthpiece Global Times on Tuesday published an article blaming India for ‘meddling’ between the affairs of China and Bangladesh.
According to a Hindustan Times report, the Bangladesh government, amidst the questions over the Chinese vaccine’s efficacy, had rejected Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine and obtained India’s Covishield doses under the Modi government’s ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative. It is being said that Bangladesh had rejected the Chinese vaccine after Beijing had brazenly asked Dhaka to share costs of clinical trials of Sinovac manufactured drug in the country.
Since October 2020, the Chinese government was insisting Bangladesh on signing a contract to supply CoronaVac vaccines. However, one of the terms of the contract was that Dhaka had to share the expense of the clinical trials carried out by Sinovac. As Dhaka rejected the agreement, the Chinese company said that Bangladesh could not be an exception as Sinovac was putting the same conditions for other countries who intend to procure their vaccine.
Realizing the Chinese trap, Bangladesh turned towards its ally India and tied up with SII for a commercial supply of 30 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Three million doses of commercial supplies have already been sent to Dhaka.
China blames India after Bangladesh rejects their vaccine
The Chinese government mouthpiece, blaming India for meddling behind Bangladesh’s decision to halt Sinovac vaccine trials in the country, claimed that sharing cost for clinical trials is normal and it was due to India’s ‘meddling’ that Bangladesh rejected SinoVac’s offer.
In its report, the Global Times claimed that the Bangladeshi government had earlier agreed that Sinovac conducted clinical trials on CoronaVac in Bangladesh in July and had planned to carry out the trials since August.
However, the clinical trials were delayed until October due to the Indian government’s alleged interference between Bangladesh-China cooperation during the period, according to Global Times. As it got delayed, Sinovac had started trials in Brazil and Turkey and did not find external financial support for the clinical trials in Bangladesh. Hence, the company had to negotiate with the Bangladeshi government about sharing the cost to launch the clinical trials, the report claimed.
Quoting Feng Duojia, president of the China Vaccine Industry Association, the report said, “In international cooperative clinical trials, it is normal for partners to share the cost based on negotiations. Usually, vaccine producers will offer to donate vaccines, or transfer some technology or help the partners build production lines as compensation”.
The report further said that it was normal for international partners to reach cooperation after reaching agreements and normalising cooperation if an agreement is not reached. ‘No one should use this as an excuse to smear any of the partners’, the report said.
The Chinese government mouthpiece, holding India responsible for the humiliation meted out to them by Bangladesh, claimed that India was smearing China’s cooperation with South Asia countries in cooperation on the anti-epidemic fight.
“India always treats China as a simulated enemy that can affect its influence in South Asia and reduce South Asian countries’ reliance on India,” the report quoted an expert. The article also cited a Chinese expert Tian Guangqiang stating that India wants to ‘monopolize’ the vaccine market in South Asia and is using its influence in the region to market its vaccines.
India supplies free vaccines, facilitates commercial supply to Bangladesh
In contrast to the Chinese ‘transactional’ nature, India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, had lent a hand of help to Bangladesh by sending a gift of two million doses of Covishield vaccine to Dhaka on January 21 and also facilitated a commercial contract of 30 million doses with vaccine manufacturer SII.
In fact, the Indian gift to Bangladesh was in tune with PM Modi’s assurance to Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during the December 17, 2020, virtual summit. The two countries have been cooperating in the coronavirus vaccine field, including Phase III testing, distribution, co-production, and delivery in Bangladesh.
Not just Bangladesh, even Sri Lanka, and Nepal have expressed their fear against the Chinese vaccine to their Indian interlocutors. India has already sent over five million doses of the coronavirus vaccine to seven countries in the neighbourhood, the first being Bhutan on January 20 and the latest being Mauritius on January 22.