New phase of immunisation campaign resumes todayPeople above 55 to get Chinese vaccines, those between 50 and 54 will be administered Johnson & Johnson vaccine and migrant workers will be administered Vero Cell vaccine.
People above 55 years old will be administered the Chinese Vero Cell vaccine that the government has recently purchased, from Tuesday.
Those between 50 and 54 years will also be administered the Johnson and Johnson vaccine provided by the US through the COVAX facility.
According to the Ministry of Health and Population, immunisation drive against Covid-19 will resume throughout the country from Tuesday.
“Agencies concerned have been directed to resume the immunisation drive from Tuesday as per the availability of the vaccines,” Dr Roshan Pokhrel, chief specialist at the Health Ministry, told the Post. “We will try to administer the vaccines at the earliest.”
According to the priority group, prepared by the Health Ministry, all those above 55 years old will be administered the BBIBP-CorV vaccine [Vero Cell] developed by an affiliate of the state-backed Chinese pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm.
Professors, teachers and other staff members of schools and universities will also be provided the Vero Cell vaccine. Along with them, drivers and helpers working in public transport and those serving in the essential sectors designated by the government, who are yet to be vaccinated, will be given the Chinese jab.
Likewise, Nepali migrant workers, who are seeking employment in foreign countries that have made the coronavirus vaccine mandatory, will also get the Chinese vaccine.
According to the 2011 census report, the population of those aged between 55 and 59 was 817,847. Officials at the Health Ministry estimate that their numbers might have reached over 1 million by now.
The Health Ministry said that those above 50 and 54 years will be administered the Johnson and Johnon vaccine. Differently-abled people (completely or partially), refugees currently living in Nepal, health workers and sanitation workers who had missed the vaccine during the previous campaigns will be administered the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
The 2011 census report puts the number of people between the age of 50 and 54 at 1,005,801.
The government has purchased 4 million doses of BBIBP-CorV vaccine developed by an affiliate of the Chinese state-backed pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm through a non-disclosure agreement. A Nepal Airlines plane brought 800,000 doses of the vaccines from Beijing, China on Friday, which had been dispatched to the provincial vaccine storages upon arrival.
The USA on Monday handed over the 1,534,850 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine provided through COVAX, an international vaccine-sharing scheme backed by the United Nations.
“We are planning to administer the available vaccine at the earliest,” Dr Samir Kumar Adhikari, joint spokesperson for the Health Ministry, told the Post. “The risk of a surge in infection is very high and we have limited space for storing the vaccines.”
Flights are also scheduled for July 15 and July 22 to Beijing to bring the vaccine. Each flight is expected to bring around 800,000 doses, according to Health Ministry officials.
Doctors say that authorities concerned should expedite the immunisation drive to inoculate the maximum number of people.
“We should use all our strength to immunise the maximum number of people at the earliest,” Dr GD Thakur, former director at the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, told the Post. “Authorities should also continue efforts to secure sufficient doses for the remaining people, as vaccines are only effective means to contain the spread of infections in countries like ours.”
Nepal already lags far behind in immunisation compared to other countries, despite being among the first countries to start Covid-19 vaccination.
According to the Ministry of Health and Population’s data made available on Friday, 2,611,807 people have been given Covid-19 vaccines and only 1,079,192 of them have received both doses.
Both the AstraZeneca vaccine, which Nepal has received 2,448,000 doses altogether, and 1.8 million Sinopharm vaccine, which Nepal had received as grant from China before Friday, require two doses.The government has decided to inoculate 72 percent of the 30 million population, as 28 percent are under 14 years of age. But so far around 3.6 percent of the total population has been fully vaccinated.