Kathmandu [Nepal], February 21 (ANI): Nepal has expedited preparations to start inoculating elderly and most vulnerable age groups from next month as it received a batch of COVID-19 vaccines purchased from India.
A batch of one million Covishield vaccines developed by the Serum Institute of India (SII) was delivered on Sunday via an Air India flight.
"We had placed an order for two million doses. The first lot was promised to be delivered by fortnight but within four days we have received the first batch of our commercial purchase. We now stand amongst the nations which have expedited the purchase of vaccines around the globe," Mahendra Prasad Shrestha, Chief Specialist at the Ministry of Health and Population, Nepal told reporters.
"From March 7, we will be starting our inoculation drive targeting different age groups in the village council and other local bodies. At first, we will administer it on people above 60 years and after analysing responses, we will roll it out for various age groups," Shrestha added.
This lot of vaccines would be used to inoculate people above 60 years of age, which is 8.73 per cent of Nepal's population, in the vaccination drive that will begin on March 7.
The vaccines, the first of the two batches of two million doses in total, were brought via Air India's New Delhi-Kathmandu 1:30 pm flight.
The vaccines will be stored at the cold storage unit in Teku.
According to the Ministry of Health and Population, there are 2,652,258 elderly people above 60 years in the country.
"We should thank the Government of India for extending their hands. The most rewarding aspect for us to expedite our inoculation drive is the one million vaccines provided earlier to us through grant assistance, it helped to increase our readiness. We could make use of those vaccines immediately and we were included amongst first 50 nations to use the vaccines. It sent out a message that Nepal is more capable and can make the use of vaccines promptly and shows a high level of readiness," Shrestha said.
The Government of Nepal on January 15 approved the use of Covishield developed by the SII for emergency use.
Nepal began its nationwide inoculation drive after receiving one million Covishield vaccines, from the Indian government earlier this year. (ANI)