Nepal on track to vaccinate eligible population while other vaccines are underway

After a brief setback, Nepal has generally been successful in obtaining regular doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to continue its vaccination campaign. And with some new deals the government has signed, along with pledges to provide the jabs in the form of grants, the country is expected to receive enough doses to immunize the rest of the target population.

Officials say more than 34 million doses of different types of vaccines will arrive in the country within two months.

“Of the more than 34 million doses Nepal is expected to receive, some have been purchased by the government and others will be provided by COVAX,” said Dr Bibek Kumar Lal, director of the Family Welfare Division of the country. Department of Health Services, at the Post. .

Officials say COVAX, the United Nations-backed international vaccine sharing program, will provide 2,188,800 doses of single-injection Janssen, 3,712,000 doses of Moderna vaccine and 3,364,000 doses of AstraZeneca.

All said doses are expected to arrive by December of this year.

Apart from this, the COVAX facility is also supplying 6,039,000 doses of AstraZeneca and shipping is expected in December.

The facility provided 492,000 doses of AstraZeneca last week, which arrived with 144,000 doses supplied by the Swiss government.

China is providing 3 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine which is expected to arrive this month.

The government also purchased 5,936,400 doses of Vero Cell under the COVAX facility cost-sharing program, with the loan provided by the Asian Development Bank. Of the 5,936,400 doses, the facility has already delivered 2,078,000 doses. A shipment of the remaining doses should arrive in December.

Nepal has also signed concessional loan agreements with multilateral funding agencies like the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank as part of their support for Nepal’s resilient recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

In August, the Asian Development Bank and the Nepalese government signed a loan agreement of $ 165 million (nearly Rs 20 billion) to purchase vaccines against Covid-19.

The government also purchased an additional 500,000 doses of Vero Cell vaccine under the COVAX cost-sharing program with a loan from the Asian Development Bank. Doses are expected to arrive in the first quarter of 2022.

Authorities also purchased 4 million doses of Moderna vaccine with a loan from the Asian Development Bank, also under COVAX’s cost-sharing program. The doses are expected to be delivered in the first quarter of 2022.

In addition, the government purchased 6 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the United States with a loan from the World Bank.

“We have been assured that most of the doses will be delivered in the fourth quarter (the fourth quarter) or in December,” Lal said. “The vaccine that we have purchased in the United States and through COVAX will start arriving from December. “

Public health experts have welcomed the arrival of new vaccines, but say authorities must focus on proper management and storage while scaling up the vaccination campaign.

“If all the doses arrive on time, Nepal will have more than enough doses to vaccinate all eligible people,” said Dr Shyam Raj Upreti, coordinator of the Covid-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee. “The authorities should speed up the vaccination campaign. They must also manage storage and improve the supply system.

Nepal aims to administer Covid-19 vaccines to all eligible populations by mid-April next year. It is to immunize around 78 percent of its 30 million people, or around 25 million people, according to the government’s new plan which also includes people between the ages of 12 and 18. The government previously planned to vaccinate only people aged 15 and over.

Since around 4-5 million Nepalese are believed to be living abroad, around 19-20 million people need to be vaccinated. For this, the country needs just over 40 million doses of double-injected vaccines.

Nepal launched its vaccination campaign on January 27, becoming one of the first countries to vaccinate its population against Covid-19. The campaign was launched after India provided 1 million doses of Covishield, the type of AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India, as part of a grant. Nepal also paid 2 million doses, but after delivering half of the order, Serum expressed its inability to deliver the doses citing a vaccine shortage in India, which was hit by a second wave. The remaining doses were only shipped recently, on October 9.

As the government failed to secure doses, the vaccination campaign was hit hard. However, the jabs started to arrive again after countries like China, Japan, Bhutan and the United States started shipping the shipments. Nepal has also received doses of vaccine from the Maldives.

Starting Monday, 11,478 people died of Covid-19 across the country since the start of the pandemic. Lately, the number of cases has dropped sharply. In the past 24 hours, according to the Department of Health, 416 people have tested positive for the coronavirus. Only one death has been reported. The number of active cases stands at 7,311 nationwide.

Nepal has so far received 22,571,810 doses of Covid-19 vaccines – Vero Cell, AstraZeneca, Janssen and Pfizer-BioNTech.

As of Monday, 7,580,113 people (25% of the total population) had been fully vaccinated, according to the health ministry.