KATHMANDU, Dec 5: The government has endorsed a work plan to bring possible COVID-19 vaccines in Nepal.
The Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) has passed the work plan, and formed eight different committees to study and procure possible vaccines developed in different parts of the world to Nepal, said a senior official at the ministry.
“The ministry has identified eight different areas, and formed committees to bring possible vaccines in Nepal,” said Dr Jhalak Sharma Gautam, chief of the Child Health and Immunization Section of the Department of Health Services.
The committees will make a detailed study on possible vaccines, storage capacity and possible risk groups, among others.
Earlier, the government had also formed a committee comprising secretaries of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to procure possible COVID-19 vaccines.
The ministry has also decided to form a separate secretariat to work on the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
The government has planned to vaccinate 72 percent of its population with COVID-19 vaccine. “There has been no clinical trial on children under the age of 14 so far. So this group is not in a position to get vaccinated in the first phase,” said Dr Gautam.
About 28 percent of the total population is under 14 years of age in Nepal, which means 28.9 percent children will be deprived of COVID-19 vaccine. The percentile accounts for 8.62 million children in Nepal.
As several vaccines are in the final phase of clinical trials, the health ministry officials predict it may take two to three months to bring COVID-19 vaccines in Nepal.
In the meantime, a Russian team is also arriving in Nepal next week bringing samples of COVID-19 vaccine, said an official at the Health Ministry. The Sputnik-V vaccine developed by Russia is still in phase III of clinical trial, and is yet to be approved for use.
According to the World Health Organization, there are 300 possible COVID-19 vaccines being developed in different parts of the world. Of the possible vaccines, 13 are in the phase III clinical trial, while seven others have been approved for early or limited use by different governments around the world.