4.4 million Vero Cell doses expected to arrive from China within a weekThe Health Ministry is also working to find resources to buy an additional 6 million doses of Vero Cell vaccine.
The Ministry of Health and Population has said that 4.4 million doses of the Vero Cell vaccine are likely to be received within a week from China.
The vaccine is part of the 6 million doses the government has purchased from China.
Of the 6 million doses of the vaccine, 1.6 million doses have already been received.
“We have been assured of the delivery of the remaining 4.4 million doses of vaccine within a week,” Dr Bibek Kumar Lal, director at the Family Welfare Division under the Department of Health Services, told the Post.
The government plans to roll out the doses soon after their arrival.
"We will hold a meeting with all relevant agencies under the provincial and local governments to expedite the immunisation programme,” Sagar Dahal, chief of the National Immunisation Programme, told the Post.
Altogether, Nepal has purchased 10 million doses of the Vero Cell or BBIBP-CorV vaccine developed by the Chinese state-affiliated pharmaceutical giant, Sinopharm.
Four million doses of the vaccine were purchased in June under a non-disclosure agreement and a new deal was reached to purchase additional 6 million doses in August.
China has also provided 1.8 million doses of the Vero Cell vaccine under grant assistance and pledged to provide an additional 1.6 million doses.
Health Ministry officials said delivery date of the vaccine that China has offered in grant assistance is still not confirmed.
Nepal so far has received a total of 13,357,590 doses of vaccines. Of them, 4,422,740 doses are AstraZeneca vaccine, 7,400,000 doses are Vero Cell vaccine and 1,534,850 doses are the Janssen vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson.
Of the 4,422,740 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, 2,448,000 doses were Covishield, manufactured in India. India had provided 1.1 million doses under grant assistance. Of the 2 million doses of the Covishield vaccine Nepal purchased from the Serum Institute of India in February, only 1 million doses have been delivered.
Besides this, the COVAX facility, the UN backed international vaccine-sharing scheme, supplied 348,000 doses of Covishield.
Bhutan supplied 230,000 doses and Japan provided 1,614,740 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. A few weeks ago, the United Kingdom provided 130,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
China has so far supplied 7.4 million doses of the Vero Cell vaccine.
Apart from this the United States of America has supplied 1,534,850 doses of the single-shot Janssen vaccine.
So far 5,533,794 people (over 18.4 percent) have taken the first dose and 4,895,152 people (over 16. 3 percent ) have been fully vaccinated.
Nepal had started its vaccination programme with 1 million doses of the Covishield (AstraZeneca) vaccine provided by India.
Meanwhile, officials at the Health Ministry said that they are working to find resources to purchase an additional 6 million doses of the Vero Cell vaccine from China.
“We had a meeting with the Asian Development Bank and requested them to provide a loan to purchase vaccines,” an official at the Health Ministry said, asking not to be named. “Just because no new deal has been announced doesn’t mean nothing has happened.”
Dahal, the chief of the National Immunisation Programme, said that his office will reach a decision on the priority group for administering the vaccine doses arriving from China.
“We will calculate the population of a certain age group, ensure second doses to those who have already taken the first dose, and take a decision accordingly,” said Dahal.
The Health Ministry has already started inoculating people above 40 years old and those above 18 years old of various priority groups including college students having exam admission cards.