KATHMANDU, MAY 31
President Bidhya Devi Bhandari has sent written requests to the Queen of the United Kingdom Elizabeth II, President of the US Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin to provide COVID-19 vaccines to Nepal.
The embassy of Nepal in the UK, has said that it forwarded the letter from President Bhandari to the British Queen through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the UK today.
A similar letter was issued by the Nepali Embassy in the USA saying it had forwarded the letter written by President Bandari to her counterpart Biden to the concerned authorities. The letter by the president was handed over to the US Department of State Senior Adviser Ervin Massinga by Nepali Ambassador to the US Yubaraj Khatiwada.
The press release issued by the Nepali Embassy said that Nepali Ambassador Khatiwada expected significant support from the US while he also shared Nepal's plan to procure the US manufactured Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
President Bhandari also wrote to her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, asking him to help Nepal purchase COVID-19 vaccines from Russia as soon as possible.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that the Nepali Embassy in Moscow is giving the letter to Putin via the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Nepali Embassy had received the letter yesterday.
Nepal has already approved the use of Russia-made Sputnik V vaccine.
But, no significant progress has been seen in this regard yet. Recently, the government has been making efforts to purchase the Russian vaccine.
Nepal has so far fully vaccinated approximately 687,000 people, which is around 2.4 per cent of the total population. Nepal is completely dependent on foreign support for vaccines.
Until now, neighbouring India had donated about a million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, while the country had also secured millions of doses under the global vaccine sharing programme Covax and from China. But, India's decision to halt the vaccine export due to sudden surge in COVID cases in the country, has dashed Nepal's hope of getting the vaccines on time.
Following this, President Bhandari has been using diplomatic channels to bring more vaccines to the country.
Recently, she talked to Chinese President Xi Jinping over phone about the vaccines and later Beijing announced one million doses of vaccines as grant.
Meanwhile, an aircraft of Nepal Airlines has flown to Beijing to bring the vaccines.
She has also held telephonic conversation with her Indian counterpart President Ram Nath Kovind regarding this matter.
A version of this article appears in the print on June 1, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.