The United States will send 1.5 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine to Nepal on Friday.
“As part of the United States’ decades-old commitment to the Nepali people, and as a continuation of our ongoing support to Nepal during the COVID-19 crisis, we will be donating 1.5 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines to Nepal. This is a gift on behalf of the American people to the people of Nepal, with the singular objective of saving lives. We look forward to announcing further details soon,” Spokesperson at the US Embassy in Nepal Anna Richey-Allen said issuing a short statement.
The shipments of the single-dose J&J vaccine to Nepal and 500,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to Bhutan are part of the Biden administration's pledge to share an initial batch of 80 million US-made vaccines globally, Reuters reported quoting a White House official.
Reuters points that the United States has been competing with China to deepen its geopolitical influence through so-called vaccine diplomacy and adds that scientific teams and legal and regulatory authorities have worked together to ensure the prompt delivery of safe and effective vaccine lots to Bhutan and Nepal. "We’re leading the world in a global vaccine strategy because it’s the right thing to do," Reuters has quoted the official as saying. "It’s the right thing morally, the right thing from a global public health perspective, and right for our collective security and well-being."
Reuters does not reveal whether the doses being sent to Nepal are part of that to be given through vaccine sharing arrangement COVAX or are part of direct assistance. But it is likely to be that shared through COVAX.
Health Ministry officials in Nepal have also been saying that Nepal will receive J&J vaccine through COVAX.
Nepal was not included among the countries including fellow SAARC members Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan that America said will get vaccines directly three weeks ago.
The White House on June 21 had announced plans for sharing 55 million shots. It had said the latest batch of doses will include about 14 million for Latin America and the Caribbean, including Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Panama and Costa Rica; approximately 16 million for Asia for India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, Cambodia and the Pacific Islands; and about 10 million for Africa, with countries selected in concert with the African Union.
About 14 million doses will be shared directly with Colombia, Argentina, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Panama, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Cabo Verde, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen, Tunisia, Oman, West Bank and Gaza, Ukraine, Kosovo, Georgia, Moldova and Bosnia.
(The news report has been updated with statement of US Embassy spokesperson after first publication)