The United States Embassy in Kathmandu has denied that there is a list of 20 countries that are being considered as potential recipients for its AstraZeneca stockpile.
An appeal by The Covid Alliance for Nepal that was carried by Nepali Times on Thursday, and shared widely on social media, had called on Washington to put Nepal on the list, given the current surge.
“I verified this is not correct, there is no such list right now,” said Anna Richey-Allen, Information Officer at the US Embassy in Nepal.
She added: “The truth (is): the United States is looking at options to share the AstraZeneca doses with other countries as they become available. It is expected there will be 60 million doses to share over the next two months. The criteria for allocating those vaccines has not yet been determined. The decision will likely be based on where needs are most acute and where they will be the most effective. I can confirm Nepal’s request is in Washington.”
Nepal saw another day with record-breaking number of new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, with 9,070 and 54 deaths. This puts total actives cases at 72,561. Kathmandu Valley alone saw 3,972 new infections.
The Covid Alliance for Nepal had said in its appeal: ‘In March, the US Government pledged 4.5 million doses to support vaccination programs in Mexico and Canada. In the last week of April, it pledged to share up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine stockpile. Twenty countries are currently being considered as potential recipients – the list does not include Nepal.’
The signatories also said they had written an open letter to US Ambassador to Nepal Randy Berry, urging him and his colleagues to pursue ‘any means possible’ to secure an immediate supply of vaccines for Nepal.
This week, the United States pledged $8.5 million to support Covid relief efforts in Nepal to increase testing capacity, treatment, infection control, and community level assistance.
The appeal said: ‘While extremely valuable, these activities alone will not slow, nor will they stop, the spread of the virus
US President Joe Biden was asked about vaccines on Wednesday, and whether his government was ordering more doses from Pfizer and Moderna, on top of the 100 million already ordered.
“We’re going to (order more) as long as there is a problem anywhere in the world — even if we solve it here — we’re going to move as quickly as we can to get as many doses of Moderna and Pfizer as possibly can be produced, and export those around the world,” Biden said.
Also on Wednesday, US Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai said the US supported the waiver of intellectual property protection on Covid-19 vaccines.
She said: “These extraordinary times and circumstances of call for extraordinary measures. The US supports the waiver of IP protections on Covid-19 vaccines to help end the pandemic and we’ll actively participate in WTO negotiations to make that happen.”