Nepal worried about future supply of COVID-19 vaccines

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Nepal has had a successful start of its COVID-19 vaccination campaign, but authorities are worried about future supplies as the country competes with other nations for much-sought vaccines produced by a handful of manufacturers

The government is negotiating with India’s Serum Institute to obtain 5 million doses for the second stage of the campaign, in which 3.7 million elderly people are to be inoculated starting this weekend, Health Minister Hridayesh Tripathi said in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday.

He said he is hopeful that Indian authorities will again help their small northern neighbor.

“We will not be able to get the vaccine through simple commercial deals with the company because we are competing with dozens of other countries, so we need the influence of the (Indian) government,” he said.

“The AstraZenneca vaccine is the one preferred by the world and also approved and recommended by the World Health Organization,” he said.

Russia has also offered to provide 25 million doses of its Sputnik vaccine, but Nepal has asked for additional documents before it can start reviewing it, he said.

Tripathi said the government is targeting the inoculation of the country’s entire adult population by September.

Nepal has reported 274,216 COVID-19 cases, including 2,777 deaths.

Health officials are worried that there could be a new wave of infections because of a series of political rallies by tens of thousand of demonstrators over Parliament’s dissolution by President Khadga Prasad Oli last December and its restatement by the Supreme Court last month.

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