Government officials say domestic politics and regional rivalry at play
KATHMANDU, Mar 12: India’s COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing company, Serum Institute, has said that the second consignment of Covishield vaccine to Nepal will be delayed.
An agreement was signed to purchase two million doses of Covishied vaccine from the Institute. However, Nepal received only one million doses on time. The Institute says that the delivery of the remaining one million doses will be delayed. Nepal should have received them by Wednesday.
Nepal initiated COVID-19 vaccination campaign on January 27 after receiving a grant of one million doses of Covishield vaccine from India.
Writing a letter to the Department of Health Service on March 3, and the Institute said that it won’t be able to provide Nepal the remaining doses of Covishiled vaccines immediately. The Institute wants to scrap the vaccine procurement deal or delay the vaccine delivery.
The company has agreed to meet the requirements of other countries. But it has been unable to expand its production capacity. The company wants to cancel or postpone the agreement reached with Nepal, reads the letter.
Delays in vaccine procurement can stop Nepal’s COVID-19 vaccination drive, said a senior official at the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP). As of Wednesday, the government has administered 126, 600 doses of Covidshiled vaccine to the people.
Those receiving the first shot of Covishield vaccine should receive second shots of the same vaccine.
However, Dr Dipendra Raman Singh, the director general of the Department of Health Service, said that Nepal is likely to receive second consignment of vaccines from the Institute soon even if the institute is unable to increase its production capacity. He also maintained that the Institute has not stated anything about scrapping or delaying the vaccine shipment to Nepal in its letter.
Government officials believe that the latest political development, government’s plan to procure COVID-19 vaccine from China and other financial issues might be the cause behind the Institute’s unwillingness to provide a second consignment of COVID-19 vaccine.
Likewise, of the 2,256,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected by Nepal under the COVAX facility of the World Health Organization in the first phase, Nepal received 348,000 doses last week.