A little over 1.5 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine provided by the United States of America through COVAX, an international vaccine sharing scheme, have arrived in Nepal.
This is the first consignment of the single-shot vaccine Nepal has received.
US Ambassador Randy Berry handed over the vaccines to Health Minister Krishna Gopal Shrestha on Monday morning.
“Today we’re giving Nepal enough #JNJ COVID19 vaccines via #COVAX to fully vaccinate 1.5 million people,” Berry wrote on Twitter after handing over the vaccine to Nepal. “I’m proud that the US is the largest single country donor of #COVID19 assistance to Nepal. This gift, on behalf of the American people, has the singular goal of saving lives.”
The Johnson & Johnson doses arrived days after 8 million doses of Vero Cell, a double-shot vaccine manufactured and developed by Sinopharm, were brought in from China.
The consignment was part of 4 million doses Nepal has bought from China.
China has already provided 1.8 million doses of VeroCell under grant assistance.
Nepal started its vaccination drive with the 1 million doses of Covishield, the AstraZeneca type vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, which were gifted to Nepal by the India government.
Of the 2 million doses Nepal bought from the Serum Institute, only 1 million doses were shipped.
The arrival of the American vaccine comes as a big respite for Nepal, which is struggling to secure enough doses to inoculate its population – around 72 percent of the total.
Earlier in March, Nepal had received 348,000 doses of Covishield through the COVAX facility. This is the second consignment of the vaccine received under COVAX. With the supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine nowhere in sight yet, there is still confusion when the 1.4 million people aged 65 and above will be able to get their booster doses. These people had taken their first shots in the second week of March. Health Minister Shrestha said on Monday that the American vaccine will be given to people aged 50 to 54.