5.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to arrive in Nepal within a month
July 6, 2021 05:47 PM NPT
KATHMANDU, July 6: As many as four million doses of COVID-19 vaccines purchased from China are set to arrive in Nepal within the next two weeks. The Nepal Airlines Corporation has scheduled a total of six flights to China to bring the vaccines.
According to the airlines, aircraft 4251 and 4252 will take off for China on Thursday and Friday respectively. Similarly, the next flight to China is scheduled for July 15 by aircraft 4251 and on July 16 by aircraft 4252. The remaining flights are scheduled on July 22 and July 23.
According to the health ministry, Nepal has already received a total of 1.8 million doses of vaccine as a grant from China. Earlier, China’s President Xi Jinping had announced to provide five million doses of vaccines for Nepal. President Bidya Devi Bhandari and President Xi had held talks over the phone which was followed by the announcement. In addition, Nepal is also in the process of receiving about 1.5 million doses of vaccine from Gavi-COVAX.
On Saturday, the US Ambassador to Nepal, Randy Berry shared his excitement over a tweet regarding a shipment of vaccines to Nepal from the U.S. In his tweet, Berry announced that the U.S. government was preparing to provide 25 million doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccine to the world, out of which 7 million were allocated for South Asian countries including Nepal. The Johnson and Johnson vaccines will be provided through the Gavi-COVAX campaign.
There are indications stating that the number of vaccine doses arriving in Nepal through the two processes could cross 5.5 million within a month. According to authorities from the Ministry of Health and Population, efforts to import vaccines from other countries are currently underway as well. However, they are not willing to share any information regarding the amount of vaccines from those countries at the moment.
According to Spokesperson Dr Krishna Prasad Paoudel of the ministry, though the arrival of vaccines from China and the COVAX vaccination campaign are fixed, the exact amount and numbers of the doses are not known yet. “There is a talk about an incoming vaccine which needs to be administered only once from Gavi-COVAX,” he said.
About six million doses of vaccines are needed to vaccinate the entire population of Nepal, out of which 4.4 million are over the age of eighteen. So far, 345,000 doses of vaccine have already been received. COVAX had decided to buy vaccines from the USA and distribute them to other countries including Nepal. The vaccines will be distributed to Nepal in different phases.
According to Paudel, Nepal is in the process of purchasing vaccines from China. Also, one million doses of vaccines, which were purchased from Serum Institute of India in February are also set to arrive soon. As many as 1.4 million people who have already been administered their first dose of COVID-shield vaccine will be administered with the vaccines from India as their second dose.
According to Dr Jhalak Gautam, head of the Family Welfare Branch and Vaccination Branch, the distribution of vaccines to specific groups will only be announced after their arrival. “We will start administering the vaccines based on the age group and to the groups at risk,” Gautam said.
In addition, it has been found that the authorities of the ministry dont want to share any information regarding the amount of vaccines coming to Nepal and where they are coming from.