Responding to an appeal by the Government of Nepal (GoN) to address the severe shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, on July 12 the U.S. government donated 1.5 million doses of Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccines to Nepal.
The vaccines, shipped via the UN-led vaccine supply COVAX facility, align with US President Joe Biden’s pledge to donate 80 million US-made vaccines globally to combat vaccine inequality.
Talking to DevelopmentAid, Dr. Dipendra Raman Singh, Director General of the Department of Health Services of Nepal said, “All citizens between the ages of 50 and 54, and citizens with complete and severe disabilities will be inoculated with these jabs.”
Highlighting that the US is the largest single-country donor of COVID-19 assistance to Nepal, Randy Berry, US Ambassador to Nepal, said: “J&J COVID-19 vaccines via COVAX will fully vaccinate 1.5 million people in Nepal”. “This gift, on behalf of the American people, has the singular goal of saving lives,” he added.
So far, 2,611,807 people in Nepal have received the first dose of the vaccine whereas 1,079,192 people have been vaccinated with the second dose. Nepal has used the Indian Covishield vaccine and the Chinese Vero Cell. The first of the single-shot type, J&J, is the third COVID-19 vaccine to be used in Nepal.
In addition to the vaccines donated by India, China and the US, Nepal has so far received 0.8 million of the total 4 million Vero Cell vaccines procured under the terms of a non-disclosure agreement signed with China in June. Nepal has also paid for one million Covishield vaccines which it has yet to receive from India’s Serum Institute.
In view of the acute shortage of jabs amid an ongoing second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and a strong fear of a third wave, developed countries including the EU were asked to donate AstraZeneca vaccines from their stockpile to mitigate the humanitarian crisis in Nepal.