Nepal runs out of vaccine, waiting for shipment from India

“Without it, we will not be able to administer vaccine to our senior citizens,” says Gyawali

Nepal has run out of the India-made vaccine in the middle of its national campaign for vaccination against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to The Hindu from Kathmandu, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali said it would not be possible for the country to vaccinate the elderly population if India failed to rush the pre-ordered consignment of the Covishield vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune.

“We are eagerly waiting for the second round of doses of the Covishield vaccine… We received one million doses in the first grant from the Government of India, and are now waiting for another million for which we have already paid,” Mr. Gyawali said over telephone.

The comments come in the backdrop of reports that the campaign for vaccination against COVID-19 pandemic has come to a standstill in the country because of an Indian ban on exporting vaccines. Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, on Thursday, however, refuted the report of a ban. “We have always said that supply of Made in India vaccines abroad would continue, taking into account our domestic requirements. Let me reiterate, there is no ban on the export of vaccines.”

Mr. Gyawali said Nepal had to deliver the second round of the vaccine doses to frontline workers at the earliest. “We have to deliver 400,000 doses to frontline workers and then we have the responsibility of our senior citizens who fall in the age group of above 65 years. Without the one million doses of the Covishield vaccines, we will not be able to administer the vaccine to our senior citizens.”

The Minister said Nepal began discussions on purchasing a consignment of five million doses of the Covishield vaccine from SII, but the deal was yet to be finalised.

Nepal was the first country in South Asia to be affected by COVID-19 and till date has approximately 2,79,000 patients. At least 3,038 patients have died.

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