Anti tobacco organizations of Bangladesh have applauded World Health Organization (WHO) for rejecting COVID vaccines by multinational tobacco company Phillip Morris and urged Bangladesh government to follow suit.
COVID vaccines by Canadian company Medicago have been rejected by WHO on 2nd March 2022 from inclusion in the list of emergency use due to the company's association with tobacco company. Medicago, which has produced the vaccine in collaboration with the Canadian government, is partially owned by Phillip Morris.
Discussants at a virtual meeting on the issue said, in order to combat COVID-19 outbreak, Canada has already provided Bangladesh with AstraZeneca vaccines which is highly appreciated.
However, this is not same for Medicago vaccines and such donations should be rejected. Because this vaccine is not approved by 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 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.
Representatives from anti tobacco organizations i.e.: Bangladesh Cancer Society, TABINAJ, AID Foundation, BNTTP, TCRC, National Heart Foundation, Dhaka Ahsania Mission, Voice, MANAS, PROGGA, STOP, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Vital Strategies, and The Union participated in the virtual discussion meeting.