Nepal will start its second phase of the COVID-19 inoculation drive from April 7 using a China-donated vaccine to fight against the deadly infection, according to the health ministry. The first phase of the vaccination drive began in January with the one million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine provided by India under grant assistance in sync with its 'Neighbourhood First' policy.
The second phase will begin from Wednesday, April 7. The 800,000 doses of the China manufactured vaccine - Vero Cell- against COVID-19 infection will be administered to the frontline workers as well as those involved in trans-Himalayan trade activities in the mountainous region, Dr Jageshwor Gautam, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population, said.
Nepali students studying in China under scholarship schemes and those preparing to visit China for further studies will also receive the Chinese vaccine, Gautam said. As many as 500,000 of the total 900,000 people targeted for vaccination have already received COVID-19 vaccines. These 800,000 doses of China-donated vaccines will be administered to the remaining 400,000 people of the targeted group, he added.
Chinese ambassador to Nepal, Hou Yanqi, had handed over COVID-19 vaccines to the Minister for Health and Population Hridayesh Tripathi amidst a special function organised in Kathmandu on March 29. Nepal had granted a conditional emergency approval for use of Vero Cell, the coronavirus vaccine manufactured by China's Beijing Institute of Biological Products earlier on February 18.
Nepal, home to 28 million people, has recorded 277,944 coronavirus infections and 3032 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.