Nepal approves purchase of Chinese Covid-19 vaccine

Representational Image. Photo: Agencies

NL Today

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Second dose for more than 1.4 million elderly people who took their first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine still uncertain

Kathmandu: Nepal has reached a deal with the northern neighbor to buy the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccines, said the Ministry of Health and Population without disclosing the price and quantity of doses.

Issuing a press statement on Friday evening, the Health Ministry said that the government has reached an agreement with the Beijing-based Sinopharm Company to purchase its Vero Cell vaccines. The first consignment of the vaccine will arrive in Nepal on July 8.

The statement came a few days after American companies – Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — clarified supplying vaccines to Nepal was not possible before 2022.

The Department of Drug Administration in February gave emergency approval to Sinopharm’s Vero Cell vaccine. Nepal has already received a total of 1.8 million doses of Vero Cell vaccines from China under the grant assistance.

In the meantime, over 1.4 million elderly people who got the first jab are eagerly waiting for the government to bring the Covishield vaccines. Even though the government has already paid for vaccines, the Serum Institute of India has failed to send vaccines to Nepal.

The situation has drawn the attention of national as well as some international communities. “To be fully immunized, and to ensure that the effect of the first dosage does not become largely ineffective, this group must have their second jab before July 5. However, Nepal does not have these doses,” a recent statement by Amnesty International reads.

The international community, particularly wealthier countries with large vaccines supplies like the UK, must urgently provide sufficient doses to Nepal so it can fully immunize these 1.4 million people, and fulfil the right to health and right to life of hundreds of thousands, the statement further states.

Till date, Nepal has received a total of 4.2 million doses of Covishield and Vero Cell vaccines from China, India and under COVAX facility through donations and purchase.

On Friday, the government also said that Nepal is getting additional vaccines through the COVAX facility.