Nepal receives 1st batch of purchased Chinese COVID-19 vaccines

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, July 9, 2021
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KATHMANDU, July 9 (Xinhua) -- The first batch of Chinese COVID-19 vaccines purchased by the Nepali government arrived in the capital of Kathmandu on Friday in a major boost to the Himalayan country's stagnating vaccination drive.

"A plane of Nepal Airlines carrying the Chinese vaccines landed at Tribhuvan International Airport at 7 a.m. on Friday," Dim Prasad Poudel, managing director of Nepal Airlines, told Xinhua. "More flights for Beijing are scheduled for July 15 and July 22 to bring additional vaccine doses from China."

It is the first time the South Asian country has purchased COVID-19 vaccine doses from China. According to officials from Nepal's Health Ministry, the country bought the vaccines developed by the Chinese company Sinopharm.

"Even though extra two flights to take delivery of the vaccines have been confirmed, we are in discussion with the Health Ministry about arranging more flights to bring all the procured vaccines," said Poudel.

Earlier, Nepal had received Sinopharm vaccines granted by the Chinese government.

Jhalak Sharma Gautam, chief of the National Immunization Program under the Health Ministry, told Xinhua that the government would distribute the newly-arrived Chinese vaccines to the health facilities in the provinces of Bagmati, Gandaki and Lumbini on Friday.

He said the government has not decided when it would start a new vaccination campaign with the Chinese vaccines and who would be administered.

Dr. Shyam Raj Upreti, coordinator of the COVID-19 Vaccination Advisory Committee under the Health Ministry, said they were planning to inoculate people aged above 55, including those who were left out in earlier vaccination drives.

"But no decision has been made yet," he said.

Currently, Nepal is administering the second dose of the Sinopharm vaccine it received in grant from China in early June.

Nepali officials said the arrival of Chinese vaccines is very important for the country's vaccination drive amid the threat of a potential third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic to hit.

The Health Ministry has already ordered hospitals to arrange 20 percent beds for those aged below 18 as a precaution against a third wave of the coronavirus on the grounds that this age group may be vulnerable over not been vaccinated yet.

Nepal's health system was overwhelmed with the second wave of the pandemic that hit the country in early April, with hospitals having to turn away patients for a time due to an acute shortage of oxygen and beds.

More than 6,000 people have lost their lives from the second wave, as the death toll reached 9,320 as of Thursday, while the confirmed cases stood at 651,380, according to the Health Ministry.

Due to a dearth of COVID-19 vaccines, Nepal has only managed to administer first doses to 2.61 million people and both jabs to 933,868 by Thursday, or just 3.11 percent of the total population of some 30 million have been inoculated twice, according to the ministry. Enditem

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