Nepal restarted its vaccination drive from 16 May for some 300,000 people in the age group 18-59 years who received their first dose of the Chinese VeroCell vaccine last month.
So far less than 400,000 of Nepal’s 30 million population have been inoculated with both doses while the fate of 1.3 million who received the first shot of Covishield vaccine remains uncertain because of the ban on exports of the AstraZeneca covishield vaccine by India.
Nepal has run out of AstraZeneca Covishield stock, and the COVAX initiative has not been able to deliver after its first consignment of 348,000 doses of the Covishield jab in March (pictured above).
The clearest pathway out of this pandemic is a global, equitable distribution of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics. But COVAX is undersupplied due to limited production capacity, particularly because of the surge in India, which is a global hub for vaccine production.
Vaccine nationalism and lack of funding have also played a part in delaying the roll-out. The longer the virus continues to spread unchecked, the higher the risk of more deadly or contagious variants emerging.
New data analysis provided by Airfinity, the life sciences research facility, and commissioned by the UK National Committee for UNICEF, indicates that G7 nations and ‘Team Europe’ group of European Union Member States could donate around 153 million vaccine doses if they shared just 20% of their available supply over June, July and August.
Critically, they could do so while still meeting their commitments to vaccinate their own populations and buttress vulnerable countries against becoming the next global hotspot while doing so, warns Fore in her statement, adding that supporting the expansion of vaccine manufacturing capacity will help the global vaccinate race.
She says: “These measures are critical, but they won’t change anything overnight. Sharing immediately available excess doses is a minimum, essential and emergency stop-gap measure, and it is needed right now.”
UNICEF helped the Nepal government on Monday to fly in 155,000 Covid-19 antigen test kits to Kathmandu. The kits will be used for quick testing to gauge community spread and at the Indian border.