Jatiya Party Chairman GM Quader on Thursday alleged that people’s worries over getting a coronavirus vaccine are not diminishing for lack of the government’s effective steps.
“People don’t know when and how they’ll get the vaccine. The government has signed an agreement with India for the vaccine. One and a half to two and a half crore people may get this vaccine,” he said.
GM Quader said, “But no one knows how the remaining 15-16 crore people will have it. So, the anxiety of people about the availability of the corona vaccine is not reducing.”
He made the remarks while exchanging views with journalists at a city hotel.
Stating that the new strains of coronavirus are being found in different places of the world, the Jatiya Party chief warned that people will face a terrible situation if the virus spreads further in the country.
He alleged that corona-infected people are not getting proper treatment at hospitals in divisional cities and district towns. “Corona treatment is available at some government hospitals in the capital and at different private hospitals. But it’s so expensive that common people can’t afford it at private hospitals.”
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GM Quader said people still do not know what steps the government has taken to provide, transport and distribute the corona vaccine. “We also have no visible policy over who will be vaccinated on a priority basis.”
He said the fatalities from Covid-19 are much lower in the country as some sort of immunity has developed in people’s bodies by staying in an unhealthy environment and consuming adulterated food and water and inhaling polluted air. “Had the corona-infected people got some treatment, the number of deaths would have been very small in the country.”
The Jatiya Party chairman also said the health ministry cannot claim credit for the lower death rate from coronavirus. “Hospitals still don’t have the required number of doctors. Steps have been taken to improve the corona treatment at some public hospitals. But no one knows when this work will be completed.”
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He suggested the government to keep a sufficient amount of rice in silos to face any bad situation as no one knows when the corona pandemic will be over.
“Many countries in the world don’t export rice. Because rice is not available even with huge money when it’s needed during the crucial time. So, it's important to stockpile rice by the government even if it costs some extra money,” GM Quader said.
BNP leader Ruhul Kabir Rizvi on Thursday alleged that the government has been playing tricks to plunder public money in the name of procuring coronavirus vaccine.
“The Health Secretary is saying it’s a G2G (Government to Government) agreement with India while Beximco saying it’s a commercial one. Whom do you believe? We think the government has started playing tricks over the corona vaccine,” he said.
Speaking at a discussion, Rizvi said the government has created a scope to make huge money by procuring the vaccine from India through Beximco. “The health secretary was instructed to say it’s a G2G agreement to hush up the government’s ploy.”
The Center for Nationalism Studies arranged the programme on border killing at Dhaka Reporters' Unity (DRU).
Rizvi, the BNP senior joint secretary general, said Beximco signed the deal with the Serum Institute of India for collecting the vaccine and thus made huge money. “Many people will get shares of this money. That’s why the Health Secretary is trying to cover up the matter.”
He said Beximco Pharmaceutical Company did not made the deal with India to protect people’s interests or to tackle the pandemic by bringing the vaccine. “They did it as part of a terrible conspiracy to steal public money.”
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The BNP leader said the Ecnece meeting on Tuesday approved a project of around Tk 6,000 crore to buy the corona vaccine, paving the way for huge corruption. “We can say the entire amount of this money will be plundered… a large amount of the money will illegally go to government high-ups.”
He alleged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader have been staying home to remain protected from the virus by pushing people towards death. “Those who rule the country with such selfishness can never be friends of people.”
About border killing, Rizvi said the incidents of killing of Bangladeshis by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) is growing due to the government’s "knee-jerking" foreign policy.
"The current government which came to power without voters’ support and mandate has surrendered its soul to India. They’ve been working as a slave of those who has kept them in power,” he observed.
The BNP leader criticised the government for what he said its failure to control the unusual price hike of essentials.
He said their party leaders and activists at thana level formed human chains today (Thursday) protesting the continuous rise in the prices of essentials and demanding the resignation of the Commerce Minister. “It’s a demand of people that the prices of essentials be reduced immediately.”
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Wednesday said their party’s ailing senior leader Barrister Moudud Ahmed is now better than before with the improvement of his condition.
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"I’ve visited him (Moudud). He told me he’s now feeling better than before. He urged all to pray for him,” Fakhrul told reporters after visiting the BNP leader at Evercare Hospital.
He said Moudud is feeling better as his condition improved.
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Fakhrul said he also talked to specialist doctor Prof Dr Shahabuddin Talukder about the condition of the veteran politician. “A temporary pacemaker has been installed to help regulate the BNP leader’s heart function while a permanent one will be set up tomorrow (Thursday).”
Earlier, on Tuesday, the authorities of the Evercare Hospital, where Moudud was admitted last week, formed a six-member medical board to review his condition and provide him better treatment.
Moudud has been kept at the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) of the hospital under the close observation of the doctors.
On Tuesday, BNP vice-chairman AZM Zahid Hossain told UNB that Moudud Ahmed has been suffering from various diseases, including anaemia, blood pressure, thyroid and heart problems.
He said the BNP leader’s condition worsened on Tuesday as he suffered a mild stroke.
On December 29, Moudud Ahmed was admitted to the hospital as he fell ill due to low level of haemoglobin.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister and Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader has said the government may reopen the educational institutions in March, considering the situation upon consultation with experts.
He said this at a programme marking the distribution of winter clothes among cold-stricken people organized by the Relief and Social Welfare Sub-Committee of Awami League on Wednesday.
The minister joined the programme virtually from his official residence.
The Awami League general secretary said, "A visible success has been achieved in advancing democracy and in institutionalizing it in Bangladesh as the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Election Commission and other institutions are working independently."
Mentioning that Bangladesh has set an example in the world in controlling the global pandemic and coping with natural disasters, he said Sheikh Hasina's wisdom, determination, courage, honesty and hard work are lauded in today’s world. “Once a bottomless basket, Bangladesh is now a wonder in the world.”
The minister said, "Bangladesh is now first in the world in jute export. It’s first in Hilsa production, while second in readymade garment export and fourth in rice production."
Mentioning the contribution of Bangladesh Army and Police towards establishing world peace, Obaidul Quader said, "A new bridge of relationship has been built with the neighbouring country [India] by breaking the artificial wall of mistrust of the past. The long-pending enclave exchange activities have been completed."
Stating that the government's shortsightedness has created uncertainty over collecting a vaccine, BNP on Wednesday urged it to promptly find out an alternative source.
"This government has no minimum responsibility to people as it has been in power without their votes. Now an uncertainty looms over having a vaccine due to their (govt’s) shortsightedness and plundering policy,” said BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain.
Speaking at a press conference, he said, “We strongly demand the government make its position clear on vaccine collection, pricing, storage and distribution system as soon as possible to overcome the uncertainty. We also call upon it to find a quick alternative source for vaccine collection.”
BNP’s six-member committee on coronavirus vaccine, formed last week led by Mosharraf, arranged the press conference at the party chairperson’s Gulshan office.
Mosharraf, a former health minister, said the government can reach an understanding with China, Russia and other potential vaccine manufacturers to collect their vaccines.
He said both the vaccines of Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech are not suitable for Bangladesh due to its preservation problem. “Russia has already approved it's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine while China its Sinopharm vaccine and started vaccinating their people.”
“We can look for alternative vaccines that are being recognised by the World Health Organization and international bodies after their trials in different parts of the world…our country could have got the vaccine at a lower price had we been able to negotiate with the producers of the vaccines now being administered in different parts of the world. We urge the government to look for alternative sources as there’re still opportunities,” the BNP leader said.
He alleged that various statements made by ministers and Beximco authorities about the collection of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine through the Serum Institute of India have created confusion among people. “When the health minister said there’s a G2G agreement with India to have the vaccine, the Beximco authorities said it’s a commercial deal with the Serum Institute.”
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Mosharraf said Bangladesh will suffer losses financially by procuring the vaccine through a third party (Beximco) instead of purchasing it directly from the manufacturer. “The cost of each dose of vaccine will now be almost double. Even if millions of doses are imported, there’s a serious doubt whether the common people will get it at all.”
He said the government could have procured the vaccine at almost half the price it bought it directly, and thus hundreds of crores of taka could have been saved.
The BNP leader said the government did not make the agreement directly only to help a quarter financially.
Mosharraf said the Ecnece meeting on Tuesday hastily approved a project of around Tk 6,000 crore to buy the corona vaccine, creating huge scopes for indulging in corruption.