'Sufficient' number of COVID-19 vaccines arriving in Nepal 'day after tomorrow': PM Oli

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Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli
Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli

Kathmandu [Nepal], July 2 (ANI): Nepal's caretaker Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Friday claimed that the country will receive a "sufficient" amount of COVID-19 vaccines for inoculation by the "day after tomorrow".

"Vaccines are no longer a problem. Sufficient number of vaccines will arrive day after tomorrow," the caretaker Prime Minister announced without stating details on the origin of the delivery or whether it would be a commercial procurement or a grant.

He was addressing the opening session of the Central Committee meeting at his official residence Baluwatar in capital Kathmandu.

Oli stated that the country was faced with a problem when the second consignment of vaccine did not arrive from India as per an agreement. The caretaker PM has also blamed the opposition leaders for the situation alleging that they wanted to take credit for the vaccination drive themselves.

"They (opposition leaders) have said to provide the vaccine when they form a government under their leadership," alleged Oli, who remains in power after a recent vote of no confidence.

India had stopped the supply of COVID-19 vaccines to various countries, including Nepal in April in view of the devastating second wave of COVID-19 in the country.

China has offered to help and had granted Nepal doses of the Sinopharm vaccine (Vero Cell vaccine). Nepal is also planning to purchase 4 million doses of vaccines from China under a non-disclosure agreement.

Mewnwhile, soon after the announcement today by Oli about the availability of vaccines, Nepal Airlines Corporation has started preparation to send its aircraft to Beijing on the 8th of this month to bring vaccines.

Dim Prakash Poudel, the Managing Director of the national flag carrier confirmed that an aircraft would be departing for China to bring a minimum of one million doses of Sinopharm vaccine.

"Next week our aircraft would be flying for Beijing, China to bring One million doses of anti-COVID vaccines. For now we have been informed that the doses would be one million but it might increase slightly. Actual numbers can only be confirmed once our flights reach there and takes off from there," Poudel confirmed ANI over the phone.

Sandwiched between India and China, the tiny Himalayan Nation has been reliant on both its neighbours for vaccines.

Nepal earlier in January became the second nation in South Asia to start an inoculation drive after it received one million doses of Oxford AstraZeneca Covishield vaccines on a grant-basis as part of India's 'Neighbourhood First' policy. Nepal also recived vaccines from India though the COVAX facility.

Later, Nepal ordered additional two million doses of vaccines on a commercial basis but got delivery of half of it. With the onset of a second wave of infection in India and difficulty in procuring the vaccines, Nepal halted the inoculation drive.

The Covishield and VeroCell, the coronavirus vaccine manufactured by China's Beijing Institute of Biological Products,have been administered in Nepal since the inoculation drive of January.

Only 7,57,635 people have received both their doses of either of the vaccines in Nepal, which has a population of 30 million. (ANI)

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