Although Nepal had to face a shortage of COVID-19 vaccine and other logistics in the beginning, the country has lately managed to speed up the inoculation drive against the pandemic. According to the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), as many as 9,120,014 people received their first dose of vaccine against COVID-19 while the number of fully vaccinated persons stood at 7,906,369 as of Saturday (November 20). Over 40,000 people got the life-saving jabs in the last 24 hours alone. Last week, more than 47,000 chronic ill people above 18 years got Pfizer vaccine. They were suffering from kidney failure, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, lungs and heart disease. The people who got their body organs transplanted also got the jabs that were given on a first come first served basis.
The US government had given a total of 100,620 doses of Pfizer vaccine to Nepal through COVAX facility one month back. The Pfizer jabs are believed to be more suitable for the people with chronic ailments and those suffering from various other illnesses. The MoHP has begun giving the remaining 2,800 doses of Pfizer vaccine to children aged between 12 and 17 since Sunday (November 21). The vaccine is being administered from 24 different hospitals across the country. As elderlies, the people with chronic ailments and other vulnerable lots have already got the jabs, the government is now giving top priority to children. Schools, colleges, universities and other educational institutions have resumed their in-person classes after a long gap with a drastic fall in the number of COVID-19 infections and resultant deaths.
Targeting children as well as other eligible citizens, the government is purchasing six million doses of Pfizer vaccine from the US. These doses are expected to start arriving in the country from mid-December. But unlike Vero Cell and Covishield vaccines, Pfizer jabs need more sophisticated storage facility with minus 80 degree Celsius. Since the country now does not have adequate storage facilities, the government is now preparing to establish ultra-cold storages to store some 1.5 million doses of Pfizer vaccine at a time. The existing storage facilities can store only about 100,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine. Some donors have pledged to provide an ultra-cold freezer. After the installation of these freezers, it will be easier for the authorities to expedite the vaccination drive in a more effective manner.
The government aims to vaccinate all eligible citizens by mid-April next year. It has planned to inoculate about 78 per cent of the 30 million population. The inoculation campaign is responsible for reducing the number of COVID-19 cases and fatalities in the country. However, with the lifting of all the restrictions and reopening of businesses and educational institutions, the country has now started witnessing a rapid increase in the mobility of people, especially in the urban areas. Many people in the Kathmandu Valley now seem to be throwing their caution to the wind by not wearing a face mask and staying away from crowds. Major political forces like the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre are also preparing for their national conventions. As there are chances of the new variants of COVID-19 being emerged at any time, it is essential for one and all to continue taking precautions to avoid the deadly virus.