Health Ministry says vaccination drive against COVID-19 will start within a week
KATHMANDU, Jan 21: As India gifted a million doses of the ‘Covishield’ vaccine to Nepal on Thursday; the government is preparing to start a vaccination drive against COVID-19 within a week.
In the first phase, the Ministry of Health and Population is preparing to inoculate frontline workers across the country. “As the vaccine against COVID-19 has arrived in Nepal, the government is preparing to inoculate 500,000 frontline workers. Almost 500,000 frontline workers will get two shots of ‘Covishield’,” Dr Tara Pokharel of the health ministry, told Republica.
On Thursday morning, a million doses of the ‘Covishield’ vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, arrived in Nepal under a grant assistance of India. The vaccine is jointly developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca – a British-Swedish pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company.
The vaccine has been branded as ‘Covishield’ in India, and the Serum Institute is producing the vaccine jointly developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca.
According to the health ministry, the government is preparing to procure additional ‘Covishield’ vaccines from India. “The date to procure the vaccine is not fixed, but the government is preparing to get the ‘Covishied’ vaccine at the earliest,” Pokharel said.
In the first phase of the vaccination drive, health and sanitation workers, ambulance drivers, hospital staffers, and those managing dead bodies will be inoculated.
Government data shows that there are about 300,000 health workers and some 200,000 sanitation workers in the country. “A million doses of vaccine are not enough for frontline workers, so the government will simultaneously work in procuring vaccines at the earliest,” according to the health ministry.
The government, on January 15, granted emergency approval for ‘Covishield’. The vaccine can be stored for six months at a temperature between two to eight degrees Celsius.
The government has planned to inoculate 72 per cent of the country’s total population against COVID-19. Almost 28 per cent of the country’s population is below the age of 15 years, and do not need to be vaccinated, according to the ministry.
The government is preparing to set up 16,000 vaccination centers for vaccination against COVID-19. Likewise, a total of 5,000 employees and 52,000 women health volunteers will be mobilized for vaccination against COVID-19.
The vaccine received by Nepal on Thursday was directly transported to the Central Vaccine Store in Teku, Kathmandu. “The vaccine will be dispatched to all over the country in a few days, and the vaccination drive will start immediately,” said Pokharel.
Two doses of ‘Covishield’ vaccine should be given four to 12 weeks apart to develop immunity against COVID-19. Research has shown that the ‘Covishield’ vaccine has 70 percent efficacy.
As of Thursday evening, the country has recorded 268,646 COVID-19 cases, with 1,979 deaths.