KATHMANDU, Dec 29: While several countries have already started COVID-19 vaccination drive, the Nepal government has just started preparations to procure vaccines by sending letters to a few companies producing vaccines.
The government has sent letters to eight companies which are conducting the third phase of the vaccine trial, according to a member of a committee formed by the government to procure COVID-19 vaccines.
“The government has already started necessary preparations to procure vaccines at the earliest,” said Dr Jhalak Gautam, chief of the Child Health and Immunization Section of the Department of Health Services.
In response to the letters sent by the government, several companies have shown interest in sending vaccines to Nepal after completion of phase III trial.
In the first week of December, the government formed eight different committees to study and procure possible vaccines being developed in different parts of the world. However, the government is yet to make a concrete deal with any company to procure vaccines.
The government had also formed a committee comprising secretaries of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to procure COVID-19 vaccines.
“Nepal will bring vaccines that are easy for transportation and storage,” he said, adding that the government is also working on developing necessary infrastructures for vaccine storage.
“There will not be any difficulties while importing vaccines as the Ministry of Finance has already assured the necessary budget for the same,” Gautam added.
As of Tuesday, 19 vaccines are in the third phase of clinical trials, while five vaccines have been approved for limited use. Likewise, three vaccines have been approved for full use.
The country is also getting COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX program, which is providing vaccines to three percent of the population of underdeveloped countries.
Under the COVAX vaccine delivery concept, the first three percent of the population receiving the vaccine includes people involved in the health care and social sectors.
In general, 900,000 people — roughly equal to 3 percent of Nepal’s total 30 million population — will be vaccinated in the first phase under the COVAX drive.
In the meantime, the government has already clarified that children under the age of 14 will not get vaccination against COVID-19.
As there has been no clinical trial on children under the age of 14 so far, this group is not in a position to get vaccinated in the first phase, according to the government.