Kathmandu, Jul 13 (PTI) Nepal will receive over a million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from Japan at a time when the country is facing a severe shortage of the jabs.
The Japanese Embassy here in a statement said Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu on Tuesday announced that the government will donate about 1.6 million doses of Japanese-made COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine for Nepal as a grant through COVAX facility, the global COVID vaccine equity scheme.
'The exact shipping schedule will be confirmed once the procurement arrangement will be finalised by the international organisation which is in charge of the matter,' it said.
Nepal started its vaccination drive with the 1 million doses of Covishield, the AstraZeneca type vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, which were gifted to Nepal by the Indian government.
Of the 2 million doses Nepal bought from the Serum Institute, only 1 million doses were shipped.
Japan's announcement has brought much needed respite to senior Nepali citizens who, following months of uncertainty, have now been assured of receiving the second booster dose, The Himalayan Times newspaper reported.
Close to 1.30 million Nepalis above the age of 65 who had received the first dose of Covishield in March are yet to receive the second dose owing to India's ban on export of Covid vaccines (following the rise in the coronavirus cases in that country), the report said.
As many as 1.6 million doses of the Japan-made vaccines will be delivered to Nepal between mid July and the end of August, it said.
According to the Japanese Embassy statement, the vaccine being provided by the country will 'effectively assist the second injection of elderly people who already had the first vaccination of Covisheld'.
'They would be also useful to proceed the vaccination campaign for the young generations who are not yet vaccinated,' it said.
Meanwhile, Nepal's coronavirus caseload reached 658,778 on Tuesday with 1,639 more people testing positive for the infection in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said.
The countrywide Covid-19 mortality toll rose to 9,412 with 12 more fatalities, it said. PTI SCY AKJ SCY SCY