In an effort to help Nepal, China has volunteered to supply 1 million doses of the Sinovac-CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine.
Sinovac Life Sciences Co Ltd, based in Beijing, China, is responsible for the development of the vaccine.
A senior official at the Health Ministry told the Post that the Chinese government has offered 1 million doses of the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine. The official did not want to be identified because the negotiations are in their very early stages. “A final deal has not yet been signed, but I can confirm that an offer has been made.”
It will be the second version of Covid-19 vaccine developed in China to be used in Nepal if the country accepts the offer and the vaccine is delivered as promised. One of the other Chinese vaccines that Nepal has been administering is Vero Cell, also known as BBIBP-CorV, which was produced by Sinopharm, a state-owned pharmaceutical firm in China.
Up to this point, Sinopharm has provided Nepal with 11,900,000 doses of the Vero Cell vaccine.
Ten million doses of the drug were purchased by the government under the terms of a non-disclosure agreement. The remainder of the dosages were delivered by the Chinese government as part of a grant-funded initiative.
Following the World Health Organization’s designation of the Sinovac-CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine as an emergency use vaccine in June, Nepal has already awarded emergency use authorization to the vaccine.
The Sinovac-CoronaVac product, according to the World Health Organization, is an inactivated vaccine (see below). As a result of its low storage requirements, it is relatively controllable and is particularly suited to low-resource environments.
The vaccine has also been subjected to a review by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) of the United Nations Department of Health and Human Services. It recommends that persons 18 years of age and older receive the vaccination in two doses separated by two to four weeks between each treatment.
The vaccine’s efficacy was demonstrated by the fact that it prevented symptomatic sickness in 51 percent of those who were immunised and severe Covid-19 and hospitalisation in 100 percent of the group under study.
At a time when Beijing has yet to deliver the 1.6 million doses of Vero Cell vaccine promised under grant support, the Chinese willingness to provide the Sinovac-CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine is particularly noteworthy.
According to Dr Bibek Kumar Lal, director of the Family Welfare Division, “Yes, there has been an offer from China to give 1 million doses of the Sinovac-CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine under grant assistance.” “We are unable to predict whether the delivery will take place before or after the 1.6 million Vero Cell dosages are distributed.”
Following the appointment of Nepali Congress leader Sher Bahadur Deuba as prime minister, Chinese Ambassador Hou Yanqi declared during a meeting with Deuba that China will donate 1.6 million doses of Vero Cell as a grant.
Aside from the Vero Cell vaccine, Nepal has employed vaccinations from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson to immunise its citizens in the past.
Nepal began its immunisation campaign with 1 million doses of Covishield, an AstraZeneca type vaccine, which was provided by the Indian government as part of a grant aid programme. India had provided an additional 100,000 doses of Covishield to the Nepal Army as part of a grant agreement. In addition, Nepal had received 1 million of the 2 million doses of Covishiled for which the government had made a financial contribution. The remaining 1 million doses have not yet been sent, but government officials expect India to complete the delivery by the first week of October, according to reports.
A total of 348,000 doses of Covishield were sent to Nepal in March by COVAX, an international vaccine-sharing programme supported by the United Nations.
Approximately 230,000 and 1.614,740 doses of AstraZeneca have been donated by Bhutan and Japan, respectively. Under the COVAX programme, the United States has provided 1,534,850 doses of the single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine, and the United Kingdom has provided 130,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine.
Vaccines from Vero Cell, AstraZeneca, and Johnson and Johnson have been administered to a total of 17,858,710 people in the country so far.
Following a snag at the beginning, Nepal’s vaccination programme has recently gained steam as doses have begun to arrive, either procured or provided as part of a grant or through COVAX. On the other hand, when it comes to the state of immunisation, the data presented by the Health Ministry are difficult to understand. If the daily updates from the ministry are to be believed, there is a discrepancy between the number of doses used and the number of doses delivered.