As Nepal has been in dire need of a vaccine against the coronavirus, India is making available one million doses of vaccine to the country. The friendly neighbour is providing us with this essential medicine as a grant under its 'Vaccine Maitri Programme'. This is certainly an appreciable gesture of goodwill and friendship. With the availability of the vaccine support from India, Nepal is now preparing to launch the vaccination campaign against the contagion that has so far infected more than 268,000 people and taken 1,975 lives in Nepal. However, the country has recorded an encouraging rate of coronavirus recovery lately. But the fresh diagnosis of some cases associated with a new variant of the virus in Kathmandu hints that the situation might turn worse from bad if massive preventive and control measures are not taken in time. Health experts have already proven the fact that the mutant virus is much more infectious than its original COVID-19. Bearing this in mind, the country needs to start inoculating people, especially frontline workers and those at higher risk, as soon as possible to ensure their health safety.
According to a news report published in this daily on Thursday, Minister for Health and Population Hridayesh Tripathi confirmed that India would provide one million doses of vaccine to Nepal. Minister Tripathi made this announcement at a joint press conference organised by his ministry and the Indian Embassy based in Kathmandu on Wednesday. The vaccine was scheduled to arrive in Kathmandu on Thursday. After the arrival of the vaccine, the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) is planning to vaccinate the frontline workers, who are definitely at high risk of being infected. In the first phase, the government aims to inoculate three per cent of the country's total population. Tripathi said that all the necessary preparations for initiating the vaccination drive are completed. The government is also in the process of procuring additional doses of the vaccines.
It is worth mentioning that the Indian government has included Nepal on the priority list of a few neighbouring countries to avail the vaccine produced in India in the first phase. Lately, India has started supplying the vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India to Bhutan, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Seychelles. Nepal's existing storage and transportation infrastructure is said to be suitable for Covidsheild vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India. This vaccine can be stored in temperatures anywhere between two to eight degrees Celsius.
Taking this into account, the Department of Drug Administration (DDA) under the MoHP has granted an approval for emergency use of the Covidshield vaccine a couple of days back. The Indian government had shown its willingness to help Nepal fight the coronavirus contagion by providing the vaccine during Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali's visit to India last week. Minister Gyawali was on a three-day visit to the southern neighbour to attend the sixth Nepal-India Joint Commission meeting. Anyway, India's vaccine support is expected to be helpful for Nepal in her fight against the virus disease. The impending vaccination drive is sure to boost people's confidence and contribute to restoring economic and social activities.