The government has granted permission to the Ministry of Health and Population to spend Rs five billion for procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.

Newly appointed Finance Minister Janardan Sharma took a decision to this effect shortly after assuming office.

The new government formed under the leadership of Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba decided to ensure COVID-19 vaccines to all eligible citizens.

The government has set a target of administering vaccines against the coronavirus to one-third of the population by upcoming mid-October and to all the eligible people by mid-April.

The COVID-19 inoculation drive has been affected due to lack of sufficient supplies of the vaccine. The Cabinet meeting last evening agreed to provide risk allowance to frontliners — health workers, security personnel, cleaners and so on — fighting the pandemic within a week.

The new finance minister has taken decision to guarantee resources for liability management under the COVID-19 control and prevention guideline. Under the guideline, Rs 564.157 million will be transferred to the federal hospital and Rs 373.49 million to hospitals run by province governments and local levels through the Province Ministry of Social Development.

A decision has been taken to allocate Rs 961.21 million to federal and private hospitals and Rs 524.44 million to state and local level hospitals through the Ministry of Social Development for procurement of health equipment, including HDU, ventilator and ICU in a bid to enhance the COVID-19 response capacity of government and private hospitals, according to ministry Spokesperson Mahesh Acharya.

After assuming office, Minister Sharma said that control and prevention of the pandemic and management of free COVID-19 vaccines to all were the priorities of the government.

He urged the concerned employees to work with utmost dedication for the same.

He said reviving the nation’s economy hit hard by the pandemic was the need of the hour and the government was ready to cooperate with the private sector towards that end.