Bangladesh’s decision to send the ant-viral drug Remdesivir to India, at a time when the Covid fire is raging at home, once again re-inforces the very special relationship that India and Bangladesh share.
Apart from dispatching the Remdesivir, which has been found useful in treating acutely impacted Covid-19 patients, Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen has said that Dhaka is also looking to send other medical supplies to India next week.
“India sought Remdesivir [from us]. We have taken measures to send it,” Dhaka Tribune quoted the minister as saying.
Bangladesh’s special gesture is all the more striking because, its own vaccination drive has been seriously impacted by the second wave of Covid-19 that has slammed India in recent weeks. Consequently, the Bangladesh bound vaccines from India have been sharply curtailed, as New Delhi decided to massively expand its vaccination programme, by including the eligibility of all adults for the jabs.
With a dense population of its own, Bangladesh has had to scout for other vaccine sources including the Sputnik V from Russia and from Sinopharm of China.
“We expect a shipment of 500,000 doses as gift to arrive within two weeks,” said Mahbubur Rahman, head of the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA).
The health authorities will vaccinate 1,000 people in the beginning to observe the effect, he said, adding: “Mass inoculation will start after the observation period.”
Bangladesh is also engaged in developing its home-grown vaccine called Bongovex, which is being developed by Globe Biotech Ltd.
Analysts point out that Dhaka’s decision to send Remdesivir to India at a time of needs well will add momentum to the new era of India-Bangladesh ties inaugurated during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka to celebrate the 50 th year of Bangladesh’s liberation.
India has also noted with approval that Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s crackdown against ISI-backed Islamic extremists of the Hefazat e Islam (HeI) who had violently pretested against Modi’s visit.
Several leaders, including those in the top rung like Mamunul Haque, Rafiqul Islam Madani, who was known as "shishu bokta" and Junaid Al Habib, been arrested in connection of violence.
Official sources told India Narrative that India fully understood that HeI’s protests were part of a sinister effort to uproot Bangladesh’s secular and inclusive roots. Bangladesh’s cultural identity is driven more by Bengal's progressive heritage of music, poetry and gender equality. Writings of intellectual and cultural icons such as Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam have played a seminal role in mainstreaming a common culture on either side of the border of India and Bangladesh.
In addition to the growing collaboration in the health sector following the Covid-19 pandemic, India and Bangladesh are expected to focus on reinforcing cross-border connectivity. India is especially keen to rope in Bangladesh in the trilateral highway project—India’s outreach to Southeast Asia as part of its Act East policy. So far, India, Myanmar and Thailand are part of the trilateral highway project. PM Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart, Sheikh Hasina recently inaugurated the strategic bridge over the Feni river, connecting Tripura and the rest of northeast with Bangladesh’s Chittagong port.