Rich countries will now waste 241 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, reports showNepal has so far received 38,539,367 doses. COVAX has already supplied more than what it had committed.
Until a few months ago, the proportion of the doses of Covid-19 vaccine supplied to Nepal by COVAX, the United Nations backed international vaccine sharing scheme, was much lower compared to the doses purchased by the government.
But at present, the number of doses supplied by the facility is almost equal to the doses purchased by the government.
According to data provided by the Ministry of Health and Population, Nepal has so far received 38,539,367 doses of Covid-19 vaccines—Vero Cell, Covishield, AstraZeneca type, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Janssen and Pfizer and BioNTech.
The facility, which had committed to supply sufficient doses for 20 percent of the Nepali population which will be around 13 million, has already supplied over 15 million doses(15,977,160 doses) to Nepal.
“Yes, we received more doses than what the facility had committed to provide us,” Dr Bibek Kumar Lal, director at the Family Welfare Division, told the Post.
After rich countries, which have hoarded more doses than their requirements, started donating excess doses to the facility, COVAX has supplied more than what it had committed earlier, officials said.
Poor countries were deprived of Covid-19 vaccines for a long time due to rich countries hoarding more doses than their requirement and of late those countries started donating to COVAX after the risk of the doses getting expired increased.
Millions of doses nearing expiry and donated to poor countries expired due to inability of poor countries to roll out the doses immediately.
Nepal too got vaccines from Bhutan, Maldives, Canada and other countries with short shelf life. But Nepali health authorities used the jabs.
“It is good news for countries like ours that rich countries are donating more doses to the facility and through the facility to us,” said Lal. “But when the vaccines come at once, it will create logistical problems.”
The Ministry of Health and Population had requested the facility to slow down the supply of doses citing storage and logistic management issues.
Several countries of Africa have wasted millions of doses, as they were shipped at the last hour by rich countries after hoarding them for long.
According to the BBC, Malawi destroyed almost 20,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, while South Sudan announced it would destroy 59,000 doses.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, meanwhile, said it could not use most of the 1.7 million AstraZeneca doses it received through COVAX. South Sudan is also handing back 72,000 doses it got through COVAX.
Up to 1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine were wasted in Nigeria last month.
After hoarding them, developed countries will now waste 241 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, according to media reports.
Of the total doses the facility supplied to Nepal, 6,387,000 doses are Covishield, the AstraZeneca type vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and 2,126,840 doses are AstraZeneca manufactured in various countries. Along with this, the facility supplied 3,651,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 100,620 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
The government purchased 5,099,487 doses through the facility’s cost sharing scheme. Among the vaccines purchased through COVAX, 4,751,487 were Vero Cell and 348,000 doses were AstraZeneca.
The government purchased 10 million doses of Vero Cell directly from Sinopharm through a non-disclosure agreement and 2 million doses of Covishield from the Serum Institute of India through an open deal.
China gifted 3.8 million doses of vero Cell vaccine on various dates and India gifted 1.1 million doses of the Covishield vaccine.
Bhutan, the United Kingdom and Maldives supplied 230,000 doses, 131,120 doses and 201,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine respectively.
Public health experts have warned of an imminent third wave which could be disastrous and urged health authorities to ramp up vaccination.
“Authorities must do what can be done,” said Dr Sarad Onta, a public health expert. “We should administer the jabs to a maximum number of people at the earliest as we do not have any other choice.”
So far, 9,737,333 people or 32.1 percent of the total population have been fully immunised.
On Tuesday, 290 people throughout the country tested positive (252 in 12,473 polymerase chain reaction tests and 38 in 4,616 antigen tests) for Covid. Three people died of the disease in the last 24 hours. Active cases stand at 5,242.