Despite having begun its vaccination campaign against Covid-19 earlier than many other nations, Nepal experienced a setback when it was unable to obtain the doses on a consistent basis. However, after the first doses of the vaccine began to arrive, the country’s immunisation programme gained steam.
The Ministry of Health has been releasing daily updates on its immunisation programme on a regular basis since the beginning of the campaign. According to the Covid-19 bulletin published by the ministry, 33.2 percent of the targeted population has received the first dosage and 28.7 percent of the population has received the complete dose.
However, there is a catch.
In accordance with data from the Ministry of Health and Population’s Covid-19 immunisation programme, more doses of the vaccine have been provided than the number of doses supplied to the country thus far.
Up to this point, 17,858,710 doses of Covid-19 vaccines manufactured by a variety of businesses have arrived in Nepal from other countries. According to the Health Ministry, a total of 7,214,742 people have received the first dose and a total of 6,238,001 people have undergone the entire vaccination series.
Nepal has employed AstraZeneca and Vero Cell vaccines, both of which are double-dose vaccines, with the exception of the Janssen vaccine, which is a one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. UN-backed international vaccine-sharing programme COVAX has received 1,534,850 doses of Janssen from the United States in total.
If the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is excluded, a total of 4,703,151 people have been fully vaccinated with other vaccinations, resulting in a total of 9,406,302 doses (of double-shot vaccines) having been administered.
In total, 10,941,107 doses have been administered in order to adequately vaccinate the population.
According to the Health Ministry’s figures, 18,155,849 dosages have been administered thus far. This represents a total of 298,259 doses more than the total number of doses that came in the country.
According to Health Ministry officials, around one percent of the doses have gone to waste, implying that over 180,000 doses may have gone to waste.
Officials were unable to provide an explanation for the disparity in data.
Sagar Dahal, director of the National Immunization Program under the Health Ministry, said he was unable to provide an explanation for the disparity in statistics.
“I’ll have to check with my officials about it,” Dahal remarked. “I’m afraid I don’t have an answer for you right now. This has not been brought up by anyone. We haven’t even given it a second consideration.”
Experts have long advocated for the preservation of data and the keeping of records on vaccines and vaccination. The authorities, on the other hand, have paid it little attention.
A mismatch between the number of total doses received and the number of total doses dispensed, say experts, is indicative of ineptitude at a time when questions have been raised about whether the authorities are providing accurate information about Covid-19 infections and deaths.
Dr. Shyam Raj Upreti, coordinator of the Covid-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee, ruled out the possibility that the Health Ministry was attempting to inflate vaccination data, although he acknowledged that the numbers are difficult to understand.
While it is true that more people are being vaccinated, Upreti cautioned that this does not imply that confusing information should be made available to the public. “The authorities must put an end to the chaos.”
According to Upreti, the entire immunisation programme could be jeopardised by such inaccurate and unclear information.
An AstraZeneca vaccine dose accounted for 4,422,740 doses of the total vaccination doses that came in the country, while Vero Cell produced 11,900,000 vaccine doses and Janssen produced 1,534,850 doses.
The Covishield vaccine, made by the Serum Institute of India, accounted for 2,448,000 of the 4,422,740 doses of the AstraZeneca type vaccine. Nepal had received 1.1 million doses of medication from India as part of a grant assistance programme. Nepal had purchased a total of one million doses of Covishield. COVAX had given 348,000 doses of Covishield to the military.
Bhutan also sent 230,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, while Japan contributed 1,614,740 doses and the United Kingdom donated 130,000 doses of the vaccine to Nepal.
Up to this point, China has provided 11,900,000 doses of Vero Cell. In addition to the doses provided by China via grant assistance, some of the doses were obtained by Nepal.
Another source of confusion is the claim made by health-care professionals at the Ministry of Health and local federal units that the second dosages for those who had previously received a first dose had already been secured.
The first dose had been administered to 7,214,742 individuals as of Wednesday. Considering this scenario, the ministry must have a minimum of 7,214,742 doses on hand. In order for the second dose to be administered while the first dose is being administered, there must be enough shots available to be supplied as a second dose, if officials’ claims are to be believed. However, this raises the question of how this is even feasible given the fact that the number of doses provided thus far has already exceeded the number of pills that have come in the country thus far.
When asked about the number of dosages procured and administered, a Department of Health Services employee admitted that he was “not good at math.” However, he stated that they had enough shots to provide as a second dose to everyone who had gotten the first dose.
“We learned a valuable lesson after experiencing a Covishield crisis, in which patients who had received their first dose were forced to wait months before receiving their second dose,” said the official, who did not want to be identified. “As a result, we are administering first doses while storing the vaccine for second doses on hand.”
Approximately 1.4 million people aged 65 and older received Covishield in the second week of March, following the supply of 1 million doses of the 2 million doses ordered by the government from India in February. Covishield was administered to approximately 1.4 million people in the second week of March. The Serum Institute later stated that it would be unable to give the remaining doses, placing the government in a difficult position to deal with.
The Health Ministry hopes to inoculate at least 33 percent of the country’s 30 million population before the festival of Dashain, which begins the next week. In order to accomplish this, 9,900,000 people must be properly immunised.
Because the government has agreed to vaccinate all Nepalis over the age of 15, the total population that will be vaccinated is around 21,600,000.
Officials acknowledge that there is a difference between the daily reports supplied by the ministry and the actual situation.
According to a Health Ministry official, the total number of pills administered thus far has reached 13,452,743.
Dr Samir Kumar Adhikari, a joint spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, stated that he was likewise unable to provide information on the discrepancy between the amount of vaccines procured and those that were actually provided.
“I’m sorry, but I’m unable to respond to your question at this time,” Adhikari told the reporter. “I’ll get back to you as soon as I know the answer.”