KATHMANDU, MAY 26
The COVAX facility has suggested Nepal to find an alternative to COVISHIELD, throwing a wrench in the country's plan to inoculate citizens aged 65 and above with the second dose of coronavirus vaccine.
COVAX is the Vaccine pillar of the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator in partnership between CEPI, Gavi, UNICEF and WHO.
Following the inability expressed by COVISHIELD manufacturers Serum Institute of India (SIL) to provide the vaccine to the world for another year, the COVAX facility has written to Nepal suggesting it to start looking for another appropriate alternative, it has been learnt.
Earlier, COVAX had committed to providing the country with 1,920,000 doses of COVISHIELD by May and had sent 348,000 doses of SII manufactured jabs to Nepal in the first stage on March 07.
However, after Serum India shared its concerns, COVAX has found it hard to supply Nepal with the remaining committed doses of vaccine.
Currently, SII is fully focused on supplying all its vaccine output to meet the domestic demand in India.
Other than the COVISHIELD from the COVAX facility, Nepal had paid Rs 930 million to procure two million doses of the vaccines to the company in February of which it had delivered half of the supplies immediately.
Following this, Nepal had inoculated 65+ aged population with COVISHIED expecting an unobstructed supply of remaining doses. The uncertainty corresponding to Covishield procurement now, however, has left the older Nepali population in limbo.
Meanwhile, the Government of the United Kingdom (UK) expressed its commitment to provide two million doses of coronavirus vaccine to Nepal in the upcoming months.