Chinese vaccines the northern neighbour is providing in a grant arriving TuesdayWhile a Nepal Airlines aircraft is bringing 800,000 doses from Beijing, the remaining 200,000 will come from Lhasa, according to Health Ministry officials.
Nepal Airlines Corporation has said that its aircraft is flying to Beijing on Monday to take delivery of a portion of the 1 million China is providing in a new grant.
“The Health Ministry has asked us to bring 800,000 doses of vaccines from China,” said Dim Prasad Poudel, managing director of the national flag carrier. “Our plane is scheduled to take off for Beijing on Monday night and return Tuesday afternoon with the vaccines.”
The remaining 200,000 doses will come from Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region of China, according to the Health Ministry.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari Bhandari on March 26 had held a telephone conversation with her Chinese counterpart Xi Jingping and sought facilitation from him for procurement of vaccines from China, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.
During the conversation the Chinese President had announced that his country would provide 1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Nepal in a grant.
On the same day, Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi wrote on Twitter, “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.”
Dr. Roshan Pokharel, chief specialist at the Health Ministry, told the Post that 800,000 jabs of vaccine would be brought from Beijing and 200,000 would be brought from Lhasa.
“As far as I know, additional vaccine doses from China will arrive in the country on June 1 and 2,” he said.
Even though it was not initially clear which Chinese vaccines would be donated, Pokharel said that it would be the Sinopharm vaccine which has got emergency use approval from the Department of Drug Administration.
Dr. Pokharel said that no decision has been taken regarding how the additional Chinese vaccines would be utilised.
The Chinese vaccines are arriving in the country at a time when the country is struggling to get vaccines from other countries particularly India as the second wave of the pandemic rages in the country.
Earlier, on March 29, China gifted 800,000 doses of vaccines to Nepal.
According to the Nepal’s Health Ministry, 290,000 people have taken the first jab of the Chinese vaccine while over 250,000 have taken second doses too. Officials said the government has been sending remaining doses of the Chinese vaccines to various provinces to inoculate people in different districts.
Even though Nepal was one of the first countries in the world to vaccinate its people against Covid-19, starting from January 27, the campaign has now stalled after it has failed in procuring extra vaccines from both India and COVAX, an international vaccine-sharing facility backed by the United Nations.
India has banned exports of vaccines since late March in the wake of a devastating second wave of the pandemic there.
This has meant that the Serum Institute of India has not delivered 1 million of vaccines that Nepal has already paid for.
After Indian government banned export of vaccines, Nepal’s elderly people aged above 65 years who have already taken their first jabs, have not been able to get second doses forcing the government to widen the gap between first and second doses to maximum 16 weeks from the earlier 12 weeks.
According to the Health Ministry, a total of 2.11 million people have their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine manufactured in India and China while 648,068 people have received both doses.
People receiving both jabs now stand at two percent of the total estimated population of 30 million.