The world is now in a fierce battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. Up to now over 3.38 million people have succumbed to the virus that first spread in late December 2019. Owing to its highly contagious nature, it travelled fast across the world. Its mutational quality made it dangerously fatal. As a result, its second and third waves are hitting the nations leaving behind a trail of deaths and scenes of desolation. Despite loss of lives and economies on an enormous scale, the scientists were able to make the vaccines against the virus within a short span of time. This was the rare medical feat the humans have achieved against the invisible enemy. And now vaccines are the only viable option to end the pandemic for good. When a large proportion of population is vaccinated, it helps build herd immunity that effectively breaks the virus chain and allows the world to return to normalcy.
Countries of the world are now desperate in getting the life-saving jabs. However, the developing, poor and least-developed nations have been left high and dry when it comes to their access to vaccines. Many rich nations particularly in the West have the vaccines more than they may need, which have put the poorer nations at a disadvantage. The vaccine nationalism is gaining currency but it is a bad practice that exposes imbalanced approach from humanitarian point of view. The advanced nations should rise above self-interest and fulfil their responsibility towards other nations at this time of unprecedented health crisis. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has repeatedly been saying that equitable access to safe and effective vaccines is critical to ending the pandemic. It has forged partnership with many pharmaceutical companies to develop, manufacture and deploy safe and effective vaccines across the globe.
No doubt, vaccines are now a game-changing tool against infection and transmission of virus but their fair distribution is equally important to eradicate the contagion. In addition to other preventive measures, Nepal government has attached top priority to inoculating the people to protect them from the virus. The other day Prime Minister and Chairman of the Directive Committee of COVID-19 KP Sharma Oli directed the concerned agencies to focus on making arrangements for vaccination by streamlining available health services to win the fight against the coronavirus, according to a news report carried by this daily. PM Oli instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health and Population and their line agencies to take initiative for the import and easy supply of certified vaccines.
Nepal is one of a few nations in south Asia to launch early vaccination drive against the pandemic but it hit a snag after the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, stopped exporting vaccines as the second wave of pandemic swept across India. Till date, only 4.7 per cent of Nepalis have received the shots. This is far below the percentage of inoculated population to achieve the desired level of herd immunity. While ensuring the basic health services to the COVID-19 patients, the government should do everything in its capacity to bring vaccines from different nations. This is because the virus resurgence has shown no sign of abating, with large number of infections and fatalities taking place every day.