Prime Minister Oli inaugurates second phase of Covid-19 vaccination campaign by taking the jabThough the government had decided to vaccinate people above 55 in the second phase, only those above 65 are being immunised due to vaccine shortage.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Sunday inaugurated the second phase of the nationwide vaccination campaign against Covid-19 by taking the jab at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital.
Dr Dibya Singh Shah, the prime minister's personal physician who is also the dean of the Institute of Medicine, confirmed that the prime minister took the jab.
“The new guidelines allow that the Covid-19 shot can be taken three months after kidney transplantation,” said Shah. “Evaluating the risks and benefits, it was decided that the prime minister should take the vaccine.”
Prime Minister Oli, who turned 70 last month, had undergone a second kidney transplant surgery in March last year.
The government had initially planned to inoculate people above 55 in the second phase of the vaccination drive, but with 1.5 million doses of vaccine in hand, only those above the age of 65 are being inoculated.
The programme will be launched from more than 2,000 immunisation centres of the over 16,000 such centres set up throughout the country for regular immunisation programmes of children.
According to the Health Ministry, President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun and office bearers of various constitutional bodies will also be inoculated in the second phase of the campaign.
Just as the country began its second phase of inoculation, Nepal on Sunday received 348,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine provided under the World Health Organisation’s COVAX facility. A Turkish Airlines plane carrying the vaccines landed at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu at around 11am.
Of the 1.5 million vaccine doses available, about 500,000 are what remain from the one million doses that India provided in January in grant and another million is what the Serum Institute of India has delivered of the two million Nepal bought last month.
Authorities expect the remaining million doses, bought at $4 per dose, to arrive within a week.
Though the World Health Organization, which in early February had forecasted to provide 2,256,000 vaccine doses under the COVAX facility to Nepal by the end of the month, recently informed the government that it can provide only little more than 300,000 doses in the first phase.
Besides the 348,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine provided under the WHO’s COVAX facility today and those coming from Serum Institute of India within a week, China has committed to provide 800,000 doses of the BBIBP-CorV vaccine developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd (BBIBP) in China under Sinopharm and officials hope to receive them within the next few days.
The government’s plan to buy an additional five million doses has hit a roadblock as the Serum Institute of India has not responded to its request to sell the doses to Nepal, according to officials.
It has also refused to sell the scarce vaccine for the earlier price and now wants $5.50 to $6 per dose, officials at the Health Ministry earlier told the Post.
Nepal had launched the first phase of the vaccination drive on January 27 with one million doses of Covishield provided by India under grant.
Though the government had planned to inoculate 430,000 people including frontline health workers, only 184,857 people received the vaccine in the first round. The Health Ministry then inoculated journalists, staff of diplomatic missions, those serving in financial institutions and elected representatives of local and provincial governments, among others.
The government needs to vaccinate 72 percent of the country’s 30 million population as vaccines against Covid-19 are yet to be trialled on children under 14 years of age.
Here are some photos of the vaccination campaign at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Maharajgunj, Kathmandu by the Post's photojournalist Prakash Chandra Timilsena.
This article has been updated to mention that Nepal received 348,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine provided under the World Health Organisation’s COVAX facility at 11 am on Sunday.