Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli has pledged to provide vaccines against COVID-19 to all Nepalis within three months.
"We deem we will provide vaccines to all Nepalis in around three months. I think it may take three months," PM Oli assured addressing the inauguration of the national vaccination campaign in Kathmandu on Wednesday. "All Nepalis will be administered vaccines free of cost without any discrimination."
The government started the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 administering the vaccines India provided to Nepal in grant. PM Oli thanked the Indian government especially his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for providing one million doses in grant in a way that vaccination in Nepal can be started within a week of starting the campaign in India.
He added that the government is taking initiative to bring more vaccines buying from India and other countries.
The Health Ministry has said vaccines will be administered from 120 centers across the country including 17 in the Kathmandu Valley on Wednesday.
The one million doses of vaccines given by India will first be given to 430,000 persons including health professionals and others working on the front line including security persons, sanitation workers, ambulance drivers and others.
The government says vaccines will be transported to all the districts within 10 days and it has already sent the vaccines and necessary budget for the campaign to all the provinces.
Vaccines will be administered from 17 places inside the Kathmandu Valley. Gangalal Hospital, Nepal Medical College, Nepal Police Hospital, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, Army Hospital, APF Hospital, Ayurved Training Center, Bir Hospital, Maternity Hospital, Teku Hospital, Civil Hospital and Kathmandu Medical College will administer vaccines in Kathmandu district.
Patan Hospital, KIST Medical College, and Ananda Ban Hospital in Lalitpur district and Korean Hospital and Bhaktapur Hospital in Bhaktapur will also administer the vaccines.
The vaccines had arrived on an Air India flight on Thursday after Health Minister Hridayesh Tripathi and Indian Ambassador to Nepal Vinay Mohan Kwatra organized a joint press conference last Wednesday to announce that.
Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali had also discussed the issue of vaccine with Indian government officials during his India visit a week before that.
The government on January 15 had granted emergency use authorization for Covishield vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India. A meeting of the Department of Drug Administration had granted emergency use authorization for Covishield making the Indian vaccine the first to get any kind of permission in Nepal.
The vaccine is developed by the company in coordination with the Oxford University.
The government has already given permission to private companies to import COVID-19 vaccines while Nepal is also expected to receive some vaccines through COVAX, the UN-backed global effort aimed at helping lower income countries obtain the shots. But when exactly those vaccines will arrive has yet to be known.