About 1.4 million vulnerable people in Nepal have been left in limbo regarding their second dose of vaccination due to uncertainty related to COVID-19 vaccine deliveries, warned Nepal Red Cross Society.

Against this backdrop, NRCS has called on partners and the international community to take action to ensure the availability of enough doses in a bid to protect people in Nepal from COV- ID-19. Around four per cent of people in Nepal have been fully vaccinated since the beginning of the national rollout of the COV- ID-19 vaccines.

However, official figures show that 1.4 million people aged over 65 in particular, who are at high risk of contracting coronavirus, have yet to get their second and all-important dose to ensure protection of their health.

The virus has already claimed over 9,500 lives in Nepal, which is more than the devastating earthquakes of 2015. Since the first case was identified in January 2020, the country has experienced two devastating waves of infection that stretched the health system to its limits. The highly virulent Delta variant responsible for the second record-breaking wave continues to drive new infections.

Secretary General of NRCS Pitambar Aryal said in a press release today, "Vaccination is one of our most effective tools to combat and contain the virus and it is critical that everyone has access to both doses to build effective immunity and slow transmission.

This is only possible by increasing the accessibility and coverage of vaccines with the support of our partners and vaccine-manufacturing countries."

According to NRCS, it has been playing a pivotal role when it comes to alleviating the suffering of people affected by COVID-19 and working closely with the relevant authorities to bolster efforts in a bid to contain the virus and subdue further waves. More than 3,900 Red Cross volunteers have been spreading safety messages to ensure that more people are taking action to prevent the spread of the virus and promoting trust and confidence in the vaccines. It has reached out to 2.5 million people via COVID-19 awareness activities in the communities.

More than 2,251 life-saving medical equipment such as oxygen concentrators, oximeter, among others have been distributed.

Head of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Nepal Delegation Azmat Ulla said, "This pandemic is far from over and IFRC is supporting the crucial effort of Nepal Red Cross throughout the country.

It is critical that we do everything possible to ensure that communities, workers and health facilities are as well-prepared for any future resurgence of the waves of COV- ID-19 infections."

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