India sending one million Covid vaccines to Nepal
Kathmandu, Jan 20 (IANS) A total of one million Covid-19 vaccines will be delivered by India to Nepal which will land in Kathmandu on Thursday, said the Nepalese Health and Population Minister Hrydesh Tripathi on Wednesday.
Addressing a press conference along with Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Vinay Mohan Kwatra, Tripathi said the Government of India will hand over the Covid vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
“India will ship the first consignment of vaccines on Thursday”, said Tripathi.
The first batch of vaccines will be administered to frontline workers and health professionals who are around one million in number.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs had confirmed on Tuesday that Nepal was on the list of countries to which it will start supplying the vaccines.
“This is the result of the excellent ties between Nepal and India,” Tripathi said, adding, “We thank the Government of India for this support.”
The Serum Institute of India is producing Covishield, the Covid-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.
Nepals’ drug regulatory body last week granted the emergency use approval to Covishield.
The Ministry of Health and Population has prepared a priority list of those who will be administered the coronavirus vaccine. All health workers serving either in the state-run or private health facilities, who are at high risk of catching the infection, are the first priority.
Support staff — drivers, cleaning staff of health facilities, security personnel deployed at the frontline and female community health volunteers — are also on the priority list.
Each individual will have to be administered two doses of the vaccine.
“This is an incomparable example of Nepal-India friendship,” Tripathi said, adding that “India has made a political decision for the people of Nepal and other neighbours. We would like to thank everyone.”
Covishield is the preferred choice of vaccine of Nepali authorities since the existing storage and transportation infrastructure used in the country to immunise babies under 15 months can be utilised. Covishield vaccines have to be stored in 2 to 8 degrees Celsius.
Besides Covishield, India has granted emergency use approval to Covaxin developed by India’s Bharat Biotech but phase III trials for it are yet to be completed.
Nepal has been looking for at least 12 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to inoculate 20 per cent (or 6 million) of its population in the first phase. The Nepal government’s priority is to immunise people above the age of 60 in addition to frontline health workers.