Nepal President appeals to Indian, Chinese counterparts to provide COVID-19 vaccines to her country

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Kathmandu, May 26 (PTI) Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Wednesday appealed to her Indian and Chinese counterparts to help her country in getting uninterrupted supply of COVID-19 vaccines as it faces a huge shortage of the coronavirus shots, according to a media report.

President Bhandari wrote to her Indian counterpart President Ram Nath Kovind to help Nepal on the matter, The Himalayan Times reported.

She communicated to President Kovind via a diplomatic channel, requesting him to take initiative to provide the vaccines, it said.

President Bhandari also thanked India for providing vaccines under India's 'Vaccine Maitri' initiative and the COVAX facility.

On January 2, Nepal received one million doses from the Serum Institute of India (SII). It has also received a total of 348,000 doses of Covishield vaccine under the COVAX facility on March 7.

Bhandari also held an hour-long telephone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

During the conversation, the president relayed to President Xi that Nepal is looking forward to purchasing China manufactured vaccines for its people.

She appealed to the Chinese government to make the vaccines available for procurement at the earliest possible.

So far, China has provided 800,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in assistance to Nepal.

China has also committed to provide a million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Nepal under grant assistance.

The report said that the COVAX facility had suggested Nepal to find an alternative to Covishield vaccines due to the inability expressed by the Serum Institute of India to export vaccines amid a surge in demand for the same in the domestic market.

Earlier, COVAX had committed to providing the country with 1,920,000 doses of Covishield by May.

However, after the SII shared its concerns, COVAX has found it hard to supply Nepal with the remaining committed doses of vaccine, the report said.

Nepal on Wednesday reported 6,714 new cases of COVID-19, taking the country's total tally to 535,525.

The country has reported 6,700 COVID-19-related deaths so far. PTI NSA AKJ NSA