Sun, 01 Aug 2021

Lalitpur [Nepal], June 24 (ANI): Many septuagenarians of Lalitpur were on Wednesday administered their final shot of Covishield after a long gap due to a shortage of vaccine doses in Nepal.

Sneha Shakya took her 100-year-old grandmother to a local vaccination centre for her second dose of Covishield vaccine in Lalitpur.

Earlier this year, her grandmother was administered the first dose of the anti-COVID vaccine, and by the time she got her second dose, the country had witnessed two earthquakes and major political turmoil.

"Early in the morning when we informed her that she would be getting her final dose of anti-COVID vaccine she was hesitant fearing the pain from the injection. But she was happy after getting vaccinated. Granny is now happy because she now can now walk around inside the house, which was earlier restricted as she was in a high-risk category," Sneha told ANI.

Sneha's grandmother was one of the 1.4 million senior citizens who got the jabs on high-risk assessment. Even though they had to wait for about 12 weeks to get the final dose, most elderly people had not lost hope.

"We convinced our granny to get the final COVID-19 dose telling her that she would be much safer with the vaccination. Now she feels better and she can walk around the house. She is happy and feels more secure now," Sneha added.

Since the start of the inoculation drive earlier in 2021, only 8.5 per cent of Nepal's nearly 30 million population has received its first dose while 2.4 per cent have got both shots.

On Wednesday, Lalitpur Municipality inoculated people above 77 years with second doses from a leftover stock at various vaccination centres.

Rajan Khanal brought his 83-year-old mother to the vaccination centre set up at the municipality office for her second dose.

"My mom is very happy now, she got her final and second dose and feels safer. The first dose of her jab was administered some three months before, she indeed had to wait a long time for her second dose but we are happy at least she got it," Khanal said.

It' is not certain when the rest of Nepal's population would be able to get the jabs due to the prevailing political situation in the country. Since the outbreak of coronavirus in early 2020 Nepal already has seen three new health ministers, and final decisions about the purchase of vaccines have to be made.

Out of 2.7 million COVID-19 vaccines that have been used in Nepal, most of them has been provided as aid by its neighbours. Nepal was able to procure only one million vaccines from India on a commercial basis, the rest have been donated by India, China and Covax, a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization.

The first country to donate vaccines to Nepal was India, which donated one million Covishield vaccines on January 21. Soon after that, Nepal started to hold talks with the Pune-based Serum Institute, the company that produces the Covishield AstraZeneca vaccines in India, to procure two million vaccines. Nepal even paid an advance to the company.

Out of the two million, Serum provided Nepal with one million vaccines on time. Apart from this, India also provided an additional 100,000 vaccines for the Nepal Army.

Though Nepal's government plans to vaccinate 72 per cent of the population, it needs to spend at least Rs 48 billion whereas the government has allocated Rs 26.75 billion or so for the vaccines in the budget plan for the next year.

It is planning to use government funds and sources to procure these vaccines and is not willing to pay more than USD 10 per vaccine.

The Prime Minister during each of his address has been appealing to International donors for more support, and Nepal is hoping to get more aid. (ANI)

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