Reject Covid-19 vaccine offers from tobacco companies: Anti-tobacco orgs urge govt

Anti-tobacco organizations have urged the government to reject any offer from any tobacco company to provide Covid-19 vaccine.

They made the call from a virtual discussion meeting recently organised by Progga, an anti-tobacco alliance. Appreciating the World Health Organization (WHO) for rejecting the multinational tobacco company Phillip Morris's office of providing the Covid-19 vaccines, the speakers urged the Bangladesh government to follow suit.

With Progga Executive director ABM Zubair in the chair, the virtual meeting was addressed, among others by Syed Mahbubul Alam of The Union, Mostafizur Rahman of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and Dr Golam Mohiuddin Faruk of Bangladesh Cancer Society.

Representatives from anti tobacco organizations including TABINAJ, AID Foundation, BNTTP, TCRC, National Heart Foundation, Dhaka Ahsania Mission, Voice, MANAS, STOP, and Vital Strategies participated in the virtual discussion meeting, said a press release.

It said COVID vaccines by Canadian company Medicago have been rejected by WHO on 2nd March from inclusion in the list of emergency use due to the company's association with tobacco companies.

Medicago, which has produced the vaccine in collaboration with the Canadian government, is partially owned by Phillip Morris.

The discussants said that in order to combat Covid-19 outbreak, Canada has already provided Bangladesh with AstraZeneca vaccines which is highly appreciated.

However, this is not the same for Medicago vaccines and such donations should be rejected.

"Because this vaccine is not approved by the WHO and as a signatory of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), accepting this vaccine will be a violation of FCTC Article 5.3 for Bangladesh.

Moreover, in order to battle covid-19 pandemic, there should be no negotiation with a company that is behind another pandemic (tobacco).

It was further said at the discussion meeting that the WHO has already approved nine (09) vaccines so far that are free from tobacco industry association and Bangladesh has been accepting these WHO-approved vaccines.

Bangladesh should also collaborate with international platform Covax in future to meet its vaccine needs, it added.

News Source: The Daily Star (29 March 2022)