Following a resurgence of novel coronavirus cases in the Himalayan region, the Nepali government decided to administer the COVID-19 vaccine donated by China on Wednesday, according to a Ministry of Health and Population official.
On March 29, a batch of Sinopharm-developed Chinese COVID-19 vaccines was shipped to Nepal.
“People will be inoculated with the Chinese vaccine beginning on Wednesday,” Jageshwor Gautam, a spokesperson for the health ministry, said at a press conference.
“Those interested in critical services, students studying in China on a Chinese government scholarship but currently stranded in Nepal due to the pandemic, Nepali students planning to leave for China for higher education, and citizens involved in cross-border trade between Nepal and China will be inoculated with the Chinese vaccine.”
Essential workers, according to the ministry, include people who work in postal and telephone services, water supply and distribution, hotels and restaurants, public transportation services, electricity supply, consumer goods storage and transportation, sales and distribution of medicines, and health workers who missed out on the first phase of the vaccination drive, which began in October.
The Chinese vaccines, according to Gautam, will be administered at designated hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley. At a time when the number of COVID-19 cases in Nepal is on the increase, the Nepali government is vaccinating with Chinese vaccines.
On Monday, Nepal registered 176 COVID-19 cases. The number of cases per day dropped below 50 in early March.
The Chinese vaccinations arrived just as the Himalayan country was running out of other options for continuing its vaccination campaign. According to the Ministry of Health and Population, Nepal has vaccinated over 1.7 million people in two phases.
The vaccine developed by China’s Beijing Institute of Biological Products Co. Ltd. under Sinopharm was approved for emergency use in Nepal on Feb. 17 by the Nepali Department of Drug Administration.