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Nepal seeks alternative to India for Covid-19 vaccines

A health worker prepares a dose of the COVISHIELD vaccine against Covid-19 in Kathmandu, January 2021.

Kathmandu, April 29

As the Indian Serum Institute did not send on time one million doses of the Covishield Covid-19 vaccines that Nepal has already paid the price for, the government has launched efforts to seek alternative suppliers.

In February, Nepal had paid the company Rs 930 million to purchase two million doses of the Covishield Covid-19 vaccines. The company delivered half of the supplies immediately, but the second half is still awaited.

If the vaccines had arrived on time, the government would have signed another contract with the company for the supply of additional five million vaccines. However, with the unexpected delay, the government is in the mood to search for alternatives.

In a conversation with Nepali Congress lawmaker Gagan Kumar Thapa on Twitter on Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali has claimed that the government has already initiated a process to import some doses of vaccines from the United States.

Uttam Ghimire, the second secretary at the Nepali Embassy in Washington, also confirms the initiative, maintaining no substantive progress has been made yet.

Meanwhile, preparations are also underway to import the Sputnik V vaccines from Russia. The government has recently approved the vaccine for emergency use. A high-level Russian team has reportedly discussed the export of the vaccines with Health Minister Hridayesh Tripathi on Wednesday.

Likewise, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in a video conference with his five South Asian counterparts including Gyawali on Tuesday, has said Beijing is ready to provide vaccines as a grant and as a purchase.

So far, Nepal has imported the following vaccines:

  1. Covishield: 1 million doses as a grant from India
  2. Covishield: 1 million doses purchased from India
  3. Covishield: 348,000 doses as a grant from the UN’s Covax
  4. Vero Cell: 800,000 doses as a grant from China

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Bhattarai is Onlinekhabar's Assistant Editor.

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