Tuesday, 3 August, 2021

Bring Anti-COVID-19 Vaccines Immediately

IT is disheartening to note that the number of COVID-19 infections and fatalities is soaring each passing day in Nepal even amidst increased testing, contact-tracing, isolation and treatment. The entire healthcare system in many pandemic hotspots across the country, including the Kathmandu Valley, Nepalgunj, Lumbini, Pokhara and Biratnagar, has already been overwhelmed. The health facilities in these cities have been facing a chronic shortage of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds, oxygen and ventilators. A scarcity of health workers has also been hampering the treatment of the serious patients. Bearing this in mind, the Nepali Army (NA) has called upon its retired health workers to be ready to serve the COVID-19 patients in this time of the pandemic. The NA has urged them to remain standby for this purpose at any time. This provision will be applicable only to those health workers who have got retirement after 2015.

The ongoing second wave of COVID-19 infection, according to virologists, is more fatal than that of its first wave. With the resurge of this virus disease, more people, including children below 18 and youths, have been infected. Doctors say that the new variants of the virus are more contagious and deadlier than their original version. As the new virus strains have the potential to evade even the strong immune system, they have proven to be deadlier. The rising death rates have proven this. However, the various vaccines against COVID-19 have become very effective in minimising its impact on humans. Those who have received the coronavirus jab are less likely to fall seriously ill or die than those who have not got it.

The government managed to launch a vaccination against this killer virus disease back in January this year. It has administered 2.1 million doses of vaccines in the first phase and 370,000 doses in the second phase. However, the immunisation drive could not move ahead as expected due to the unavailability of the adequate number of jabs. The government had to postpone the vaccination with the issuance of the fresh prohibitory order in various parts of the country. The government is considering resuming the nationwide inoculation campaign once vaccines are available. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Ishwor Pokhrel Wednesday held consultations with the ministers to import COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible. As the coordinator of the COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre (CCMC), DPM Pokhrel discussed the matter with Minister for Home Affairs Ram Bahadur Thapa 'Badal', Finance Minister Bishnu Poudel, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Minister for Health and Population Hridayesh Tripathi and Chief Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi.

The government has accorded top priority to bringing the much-needed vaccines immediately by completing the necessary procurement process. It aims to import the vaccines manufactured in India, and it has considered the vaccines produced in other countries as alternative. But the Indian companies have stopped exporting vaccines following the outbreak of the second wave of the pandemic across India. It may be recalled here that the government has entrusted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the responsibility of coordinating with different nations for importing the vaccines at the earliest possible.