Photo courtesy: Surya Thapa, the prime minister's press advisor
KATHMANDU, Jan 27: Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Wednesday vowed to roll out COVID-19 vaccine for free to all Nepali nationals within three months.
Oli made the remarks after he launched the first phase of a nation-wide immunization drive against COVID-19 through a video conference from Baluwatar, the prime minister's official residence. "We are going to roll out COVID-19 vaccine free to all our fellow countrymen," the prime minister said, adding that the immunization drive is expected to complete within three months.
On the occasion, Prime Minister Oli expressed gratitude to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for providing COVID-19 vaccine under grant assistance. "We are purchasing additional COVID-19 vaccines from India in the coming days," he said.
The immunization drive against COVID-19 began after Dr Sagar Rajbhandari, director of Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, Teku, received the jab today morning.
The government is inoculating frontline workers fighting against COVID-19 from 62 hospitals and 120 vaccination centers across the country.
In the first phase of the vaccination drive, the government is inoculating the ‘Covishield’ vaccine gifted by India to around 450,000 frontline workers, according to the Ministry of Health and Population.
Last week, the Government of India gifted a million doses of the ‘Covishied’ vaccine to Nepal. The vaccine was jointly developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca--a British-Swedish pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company. It has been branded as ‘Covishield’ in India, and is produced by the Serum Institute of India.
According to the ministry, the vaccine has already been dispatched to almost 70 districts as of Tuesday.
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 vaccinate 72 percent of the country’s total population against COVID-19. Almost 28 percent of the country’s population is below the age of 15 years, and does not need to be vaccinated, according to the ministry.
Likewise, the government has also sent vaccination cards to all the provinces.