As many as 1.5 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have arrived in Kathmandu from the United States today.

The newly arrived vaccines will likely be administered to people aged 55 years and above although the Ministry of Health and Population has yet to unveil a vaccination plan with priority groups.

The shipment, a grant under the COVAX facility, is part of the Biden administration’s pledge to share an initial batch of 80 million U.S.-made vaccines globally amid concern about the wide disparity in vaccination rates between advanced and developing countries.

The United States has been competing with China to deepen its geopolitical influence through so-called vaccine diplomacy, but insists it is not sharing vaccines to secure favors or extract concessions, but to save lives and end the pandemic.

As of yesterday, a total of 1,041,366 people in Nepal have been vaccinated with both doses of either India-made Covishield or China-made Vero Cell vaccine, as per the data at the Ministry of Health and Population.

Similarly, as many as 2,611,807 people across country have received at least one dose of either vaccines.

However, elderlies above the age of 60 who received their first shot of the Covishield vaccine three months ago have yet to get their second dose as India has halted its vaccine export.

Inaugurating the new surgical building of Bir Hospital in Kathmandu on Sunday, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said that most Nepalis will be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of 2021.

“Nepali people should not worry about availability of vaccines against COVID-19 now as the jabs are coming regularly. Efforts are underway to make new agreements to ensure vaccines to maximum population in the country,” he said.

Nepal has received 5.48 million doses of anti-COVID vaccines from various sources so far. A shipment of 800,000 doses of Vero Cell vaccine, purchased by Nepal government, arrived in Kathmandu from China on Friday. Earlier, China had provided 1.8 million doses of Vero Cell vaccine as grant.

Similarly, Nepal has received 1 million doses of the purchased Covishield vaccines from India besides 1.1 doses as grants.

An additional 1 million doses of the purchased Covishield vaccine have yet to arrive from India. Similarly, Nepal earlier received 348,000 doses of Covishield vaccine through the COVAX facility.