China has donated eight lakh doses of Vero-cell vaccine and syringes to Nepal, but to bring them home, the Nepali government has spent NPR 20 million. The Vero-cell vaccine is developed by Sinopharm, a Chinese manufacturer.

The donated vaccines, however, have cost Nepal dear because the Nepali government had to charter an airbus of Nepal Airlines Corporation to bring the vaccines.

"The 11-hour chartered flight cost $15,600 per hour," said a source on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media.

The chartered plane flew from Beijing last evening and landed here today.

"The government decided to foot the bill for bringing the vaccines, as Nepal needed more vaccines. We'll bring vaccines from those who are willing to donate," said Samir Kumar Adhikari, assistant spokesperson for the health ministry. Though the Chinese vaccines have arrived in the country, the World Health Organisation has not yet approved Vero-cell vaccine.

"Several vaccines are being used for emergency use. We hope the WHO will give its nod to Vero-cell, as it is also in the queue for WHO approval," said Adhikari.

The government, however, hasn't yet decided who all will be vaccinated with Vero-cell.

"That will be decided by the ministry's technical committee," said Adhikari.

The government had to stop the vaccination drive, as it didn't have enough vaccines.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 30, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.