In the first week of February, China had announced to provide 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Nepal. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced the donation during a telephonic conversation with Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali. Later, the northern neighbour added another 300,000 vaccines under grant assistance to Nepal. All the 800,000 doses of vaccines from China arrived in Nepal on Monday. The vaccine is manufactured by Beijing Institute of Biological Products Co. Ltd. under Sinopharm. The Department of Drugs Administration under the Ministry of Health and Population had approved the Chinese vaccine for emergency use in the country on February 17. The vaccine, to be stored in the temperature of 2 to 8 degrees Centigrade, needs to be administered in two doses. Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi handed over the vaccines to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli amid at function held at the Prime Minister’s official residence in Baluwatar.
China has shown a gesture of true friendship and help when Nepal is in need. Nepal received such assistance during the devastating earthquake of 2015 and it is continuing today in the time of pandemic. During the hand-over ceremony, Prime Minister Oli thanked the northern neighbour’s friendly support saying that the grant of the vaccines had further strengthened the friendly relations between the two countries. PM Oli hailed China’s role in the development of COVID-19 vaccine which has made an important contribution to protect not only the Chinese people but the entire humanity in the world. The Prime Minister highlighted the government’s ‘life first’ priority and said that all the eligible citizens will be inoculated against the virus. On the occasion, Chinese Ambassador Hou said that the vaccine assistance to Nepal was the implementation of the sincere commitment of President Xi Jinping to make Chinese COVID-19 vaccine a global priority. This gesture is indeed reflective of the concerns about the public health needs of both the friendly countries.
Earlier, Nepal’s southern neighbour India had provided 1,000,000 doses of Covishield vaccines produced by the Serum Institute in India under grant assistance. The vaccines have come from the northern neighbour at a time when the country is running short of the COVID-19 vaccines due to a delay in the procurement of Covishield vaccines from India. As a result, the vaccination process has been temporarily halted in the country as one million more vaccines purchased from India are still to come. The country has recorded around 276,800 coronavirus infections and over 3,000 deaths till date. As the active case count in the country stands at 1,282 the country is still facing the threat of the pandemic. Pandemic fears are high lately because of spiking cases in India with which we share an open border. Thanks to the Chinese vaccination assistance, the government would soon be able to resume the vaccination drive. China is immediate neighbour of Nepal and the relation with it is close and cordial which has been proved during this time of pandemic. Vaccine donation by the northern neighbour marks true friendship. In this regard, the battle against COVID-19 is going to be more effective with such joint effort and cooperation.