The Ministry of Health and Population today issued a press release saying that there was no possibility of importing five million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from India in the near future.

The ministry's clarification came in response to recent media criticism of the government's failure to ensure supply of COV- ID-19 vaccines. The ministry said that out of two million doses of Covishield vaccines that the government had purchased from Serum Institute of India, the government imported one million, but could not import another million due to a fire incident at the SII plant and decrease in its production capacity.

SII has promised to provide the remaining one million doses once its production capacity improves, the ministry added.

Stating that the government had been making diplomatic and other efforts to secure supply of COVID-19 vaccines, the ministry said that the Department of Health, and not the ministry, was responsible for purchasing Covishield vaccines.

Bibeksheel Sajha Party today issued a press release condemning the government for vaccine scarcity. It said that the government was not only incompetent and inefficient, but was also trying to cover up its corrupt practices by shifting the blame on business agents who were partly responsible for the mess.

The party asked if agents were creating obstacles in the supply of COVID-19 vaccines, then why no action was taken against them. The party wondered how the government could escape its responsibility to control the COVID pandemic by shifting the blame on middlemen.

"If middlemen created obstacles in the government's efforts to bring vaccines from India, why did the government not try to bring vaccines from other countries?" asked the Bibeksheel Sajha Party.

The party pointed out that even if India had supplied five million doses of vaccine, it would not have been enough for the country.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had said in January that the government would vaccinate the entire population of Nepal in three months. BSP demanded a probe into delay in the supply of COVID vaccines. The party also urged the government to ensure supply of COVID vaccines from other countries as soon as possible.

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