Donor-dependent Nepal to bring Covid-19 vaccines too little, too late

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Kathmandu, December 15

Concerned officials have conceded the government of Nepal will not be able to bring Covid-19 vaccines, sufficient to meet the need, for its people anytime soon.

Because the government is dependent on international assistance, they say the vaccines will be imported too little, too late.

The government has hoped to bring the vaccines under the COVAX programme of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations through the World Health Organisation. However, it is likely to take at least six months, says Dr Shyam Raj Upreti, the coordinator of Vaccine Committee in the Ministry of Health.

An official of the ministry says the vaccines imported in the first phase will suffice only three per cent of the population. In three phases, the COVAX vaccines will hopefully come for 20 per cent of the population.

Besides the COVAX, the government has also made efforts on other fronts also for the vaccine import. But, it is again relying on donors, which is why the process is certain to take more time than expected.

Dr Roshan Pokharel, the ministry’s chief expert, says the ministry has planned to collect funds from all (federal, provincial and local) levels of the government, individuals in Nepal and abroad, financial institutions, other institutions, and foreign government and non-government agencies. The ministry has recently called donor agencies involved in Nepal’s health sector to support the government for the vaccines.

Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali confirms the government is in conversation with the donor agencies for vaccines import.

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