As many as 800,000 doses of the China-made Vero Cell vaccines, bought by Nepal government, has arrived in Kathmandu from Beijing in a Nepal Airlines Corporation’s (NAC) wide-body aircraft today morning.
The government had signed a non-disclosure agreement with Chinese company Sinopharm to purchase a total of 4 million doses of Vero Cell vaccines. As per the agreement, the first batch of the vaccines have arrived in Kathmandu.
The head of the Vaccination Branch of the Health Service Department, Dr Jhalak Sharma Gautam, said that the remaining vaccines will be brought in batches via additional flights soon.
The Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) has stated that people between the age group of 60 to 64 years will be prioritized when administering the new batch of vaccines. When all people of the said age group are inoculated, the Ministry plans to vaccinate people between the age group of 55 and 60 years.
MoHP spokesperson Dr Krishna Prasad Poudel said that the newly arrived vaccines will be distributed to all 77 district immediately.
The vaccines are currently kept in the cold storage of Tribhuwan International Airport. While there is a central-level storage center each in Teku and Pathalaiya; Hetauda, Biratnagar, Pokhara, Butwal, Nepalgunj, Surkhet and Dhangadhi have one regional-level storage center each.
The government plans to start vaccination at the district level after the vaccines are delivered to respective storage centers.
Vero Cell vaccines can be stored at a temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius. Unopened vaccines can be used for up to two years. Experts say that once the vaccine’s vial is opened, the vaccine should be administered within six hours before it becomes ineffective.
Similarly, a Nepal Airlines flight brought a consignment consisting of ventilators, oxygen concentrators, masks, PPEs, and coverall of medical support from Israel on Thursday.
The medical supplies were provided by the government and people of Israel as well as the Nepali community living in Israel to support the ongoing fight against COVID-19 in Nepal at the initiative of the Nepali Embassy in Tel Aviv.