Government of Nepal has signed Rs 19.58 billion concessional loan agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to purchase vaccines against COVID-19.

Finance Secretary Madhu Kumar Marasini and Nepal Country Director of ADB Arnaud Cauchois signed on the agreement at a program organized at the Ministry of Finance on Wednesday. The money will be utilized in procuring 15.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines which will benefit about 6.8 million people.

Marasini said that the financial support would be instrumental in ensuring safe and effective vaccine to Nepali people. “It will contribute to save lives of Nepali citizens and revive the economy,” he said, adding that the vaccination programs were the government’s top priority.

Cauchois expressed confidence that this agreement would be helpful in breaking the deadly cycle of COVID-19 and saving the lives of people, and moving to the economic and social revival. He pledged for the continuation of such support in the future as well.

The government also plans to make the vaccine distribution more effective and enhance community participation in the drive with the new support from the ADB.

Meanwhile, the government has decided to vaccinate students participating in the examination being conducted by Tribhuvan University (TU).

According to Head of Child Welfare and Immunization Division of the Health Services Department, Dr Jhalak Sharma Gautam, the government has decided to immediately vaccinate TU students who are sitting for their final exams.

Such students must bring their admission card with them in order to get the jab, Gautam said.

According to him, students can get vaccinated at the Kathmandu Police Hospital, Military Hospital, Armed Police Hospital and Radhaswami Isolation Vaccination Center in Kathmandu.

TU is currently conducting undergraduate and postgraduate examinations. TU has estimated that about 60,000 students are taking the exams.

On August 9, five student organizations affiliated to the ruling Nepali Congress party had met Minister of State for Health Umesh Shrestha and handed over a memorandum asking him to arrange vaccines for the students participating in the examination.

Stating that the fear of spreading COVID-19 infection from the examination center has added to the students’ anxiety, they demanded that the candidates be vaccinated.