China offers to gift 1 million doses of Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine to NepalThe vaccine, developed by the Sinovac Life Sciences Co Ltd, has already been granted emergency use authorisation.
China has offered to provide 1 million doses of the Sinovac-CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine to Nepal.
The vaccine is developed by the Beijing-based Sinovac Life Sciences Co Ltd of China.
“We have been offered 1 million doses of the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine by China,” a senior official at the Health Ministry told the Post who did not wish to be named because talks are in a very preliminary stage. “A final agreement is yet to be signed but I can say there is an offer.”
If Nepal accepts the offer and the vaccine arrives, it will be the second type of Covid-19 vaccine manufactured in China to be used in Nepal. The other Chinese vaccine Nepal has been administering is Vero Cell or BBIBP-CorV, developed by Sinopharm, China’s state-affiliated pharmaceutical giant.
So far Sinopharm has supplied 11,900,000 doses of the Vero Cell vaccine to Nepal.
Of them 10 million doses were purchased by the government under a non-disclosure agreement. The rest of the doses were provided by the Chinese government under grant assistance.
Officials at the Ministry of Health and Population said that the Sinovac-CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine doses too have been offered by China under grant assistance.
Nepal has already granted emergency use authorization to the Sinovac-CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine after the World Health Organisation listed it for emergency use in June.
The World Health Organisation said that the Sinovac-CoronaVac product is an inactivated vaccine. Its easy storage requirements make it very manageable and particularly suitable for low-resource settings.
The UN health agency’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) has also completed a review of the vaccine. It recommends the vaccine for use among adults 18 years and old, in a two-dose schedule with a spacing of two to four weeks.
Vaccine efficacy results have shown that the vaccine prevented symptomatic disease in 51 percent of those vaccinated and prevented severe Covid-19 and hospitalisation in 100 percent of the studied population.
The Chinese offer to provide the Sinovac-CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine comes at a time when Beijing has yet to deliver the 1.6 million doses of Vero Cell promised under grant assistance.
“Yes there is an offer from China to supply 1 million doses of the Sinovac-CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine under grant assistance,” said Dr Bibek Kumar Lal, director at the Family Welfare Division. “We cannot say if the delivery will be made before the 1.6 million Vero Cell doses are supplied or afterwards.”
Days after Nepali Congress leader Sher Bahadur Deuba was appointed prime minister, Chinese Ambassador Hou Yanqi during her meeting with Deuba had announced that China would provide 1.6 million doses of Vero Cell in grant.
Apart from Vero Cell, Nepal so far used AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to inoculate its population.
Nepal started its vaccination drive with the 1 million doses of Covishield, the AstraZeneca type vaccine, which the Indian government had supplied under grant assistance. India had supplied an additional 100,000 doses of Covishield under grant to the Nepal Army. Besides, Nepal had received 1 million of the 2 million doses of Covishiled for which the government had paid. The remaining 1 million doses are yet to be supplied, but government officials say India is likely to provide the doses by the first week of October.
Nepal received 348,000 doses of Covishield from COVAX, an international vaccine-sharing scheme backed by the United Nations, in March.
Bhutan and Japan have provided 230,000 and 1.614,740 doses of AstraZeneca. The United States has supplied 1,534,850 doses of the single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine and the United Kingdom has supplied 130,000 doses of AstraZeneca under COVAX.
Altogether, the country has so far received 17,858,710 doses of Vero Cell, AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson vaccines.After an initial hitch, Nepal’s vaccination drive has of late gathered momentum after doses started to arrive–procured or provided under grant or through COVAX. However, when it comes to the vaccination status, the numbers provided by the Health Ministry are confusing. If the ministry’s daily updates are anything to go by, there is a mismatch between the number of doses used and the number of doses arrived.