China announces 1 million Covid-19 vaccines to Nepal under grant assistanceEarlier in March, the country provided 800,000 doses of Sinopharm’s BBIBP-CorV to Nepal.
Amid Nepal’s deepening virus crisis, China has announced that it would provide 1 million doses in grant assistance.
“During today's phone conversation with Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China will provide 1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Nepal under grant assistance,” Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi announced on Twitter.
It was not immediately clear which type of vaccine China is going to provide to Nepal. Earlier in March, China had provided 800,000 doses of Sinopharm’s BBIBP-CorV to Nepal.
China’s announcement to provide 1 million doses to Nepal comes on the heels of President Bhandari’s letter to Indian President Ram Nath Kovind to take initiatives to ensure vaccines to Nepal. After writing to her Indian counterpart, Bhandari had spoken with Xi by phone, making a similar request.
As Nepal battles the second wave of the coronavirus, the government is struggling to acquire vaccines and has been reaching out to various countries and manufactures.
Nepal launched its vaccination drive on January 27 with the 1 million doses of Covishield, the AstraZeneca type vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. The government then placed an order for 2 million doses, paying in advance to the Serum. But after supplying 1 million doses in the third week of February, the Serum expressed its inability to provide the remaining doses citing rising demand in India. On March 7, Nepal received 348,000 doses of Covishield under COVAX, an international vaccine-sharing facility backed by the United Nations.
Nepal received 800,000 doses of the Chinese vaccine on March 29. Thereafter, there have been no supplies.
COVAX has already communicated to Nepal about the delays.
So far, according to government figures, 2,727,193 people have been vaccinated, with around 614,113 taking both doses.
Nepal needs to vaccinate 72 percent of the 30 million population, for which it needs around 44 million doses.
COVAX had committed to providing around 13 million doses, enough to inoculate 20 percent of the total population, or 6 million people.
With no additional supply of Covishield, the government has not been able to say when those 1.3 million people over 65 years of age who took the first shots from March 7 to March 15 would be getting the booster doses.