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Nepal PM sends SOS to the world for Covid vaccines

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: May 28, 2021, 01:10 PM IST

Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli Photograph:(PTI)

Story highlights

The country of nearly 30 million people has so far received just over three million doses from various sources, with another million promised by Beijing

Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli on Thursday called on international community to supply the nation with Covid vaccines. He said that the Himalayan nation would need about 40 million vaccines. 

The country of nearly 30 million people has so far received just over three million doses from various sources, with another million promised by Beijing.

A new wave of infections has overwhelmed hospitals in Nepal.

"We appeal to the international community to make vaccines available... We are ready to purchase if donations are not possible," KP Sharma Oli told reporters.

"It is difficult to take small numbers because double doses are required. So we hope that vaccines arrive in large quantities. We have to vaccinate about 20 million people, so we need almost 40 million vaccines."

Number of Covid infections started soaring in Nepal in early April and peaked in mid-May. At this time, the country was recording more than 9000 infections a day.

The healthcare system in Nepal remains under pressure though the daily rises have declined slightly.

"The situation is heading towards being controlled but we are not yet in a situation where we can say (the cases) are decreasing," Oli added.

Nepal began its vaccination campaign in January with a gift of one million doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford jabs from India.

The government had ordered two million more AstraZeneca-Oxford shots from India but a spike in cases saw New Delhi freeze its exports, leaving Nepal with only the million delivered in January.

China donated 800,000 Sinopharm shots, while a further 348,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine had arrived under the Covax programme to help poorer countries in March. Media reports said up to 13 million shots were meant to be sent by Covax.

China said on Wednesday that it would send another million vaccine doses under a grant.

Epidemiologist Lhamo Sherpa said developing countries like Nepal badly needed more shots.

"It is important to pressure the international community for vaccines," he told AFP.

Western nations "are talking about wearing or not wearing masks or vaccinating children, while here even the old, vulnerable population have not received it," Sherpa said.

(With inputs from agencies)