The government is to provide the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as an alternative to the booster dose of Covishield vaccine.

The government decided this after Serum Institute of India, the manufacturing company of Covishield vaccine and the COVAX Facility, expressed inability to supply additional quantities of Covishield vaccines to Nepal for the time being.

Now, the Ministry of Health and Population is to give the AstraZeneca vaccine for those waiting for the booster shot of Covishield as both vaccines are similar in nature and composition.

According to Director of Family Welfare Division, Department of Health Services Dr Taranath Pokhrel, when the import of Covishield vaccine is presently not possible, Astra- Zeneca will be given to recipients of the first dose of Covishield as both vaccines were developed by the same company and were based on the same formula and methodology. So, it would make no difference if the AstraZeneca was given as an alternative to Covishield.

The vaccination schedule is yet to be fixed.

The booster or second dose is to be taken after 12-16 weeks of getting the first shot.

Around 1.4 million of people above 65 years of age were provided the first shot of Covishield from 7 March to 23 March.

They are waiting for the final shot as the Serum Institute of India expressed its inability to supply one million doses of the vaccine that Nepal had procured from the company for the time being in view of the increasing infection rate in India.

So far, in Nepal, the number of people who have received the first shot of COVID-19 jab stands at 2.13 million, while 691,184 have received the full course. The government is administering the China-manufactured Vero Cell to people from 60-64 age group from tomorrow.

A version of this article appears in the print on June 8, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.