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1.5 million people in Nepal unable to get second COVID-19 vaccine dose as India curbs exports



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A health worker inoculates a man with the Covishield vaccine at a health post near Lukla. Photo - Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images

By Asha Thapa, Nishant Khanal, and Kosh Koirala, Kathmandu, May 20 (CNN): A total of 1.5 million people in Nepal are not able to get their second dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, as the country's stocks run out and supply prospects have become clouded by India’s curb on vaccine exports.

Dr. Samir Adhikari, the deputy spokesperson for Nepal’s Ministry of Health and Population, said that among them, 1.3 million are elderly.

Nepal started its vaccination drive in January with 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca shot provided by India, which were administered to frontline health care workers.

The country later procured 2 million more doses of the AstraZeneca shots from the Serum Institute of India (SII), but so far only 1 million were received, which were administered to people above age 65 as first doses.

The SII had yet to deliver the remaining 1 million shots that Nepal was expecting to receive by the end of April and administer as second doses to the elderly in May, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Health and Population, Dr. Jageshwor Gautam said.

The SII said in a statement on Tuesday that it hoped to start delivering to COVAX and other countries by the end of this year.

“We are in communication with the Indian side through the diplomatic channel to get vaccines at the earliest possible date,” Gautam said adding there is no date yet for when the supply of vaccines will be resumed.
Gautam added Nepal has around 50,000 to 60,000 doses of Covishield – the Indian manufactured AstraZeneca vaccine – in storage for emergency purposes.