Kathmandu, Jan 27 (efe-epa).- Nepal on Wednesday launched its national vaccination campaign against the new coronavirus, a completely free process which is expected to cover 72 percent of the country’s around 30 million residents within the next three months.
Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli inaugurated the campaign through videoconferencing from his residence, announcing that the immunization would be “free for all citizens.”
“We are purchasing additional vaccines from India in the coming days,” said Oli, after receiving the first shipment of one million doses last week, sponsored by the government of India as part of a diplomatic drive by New Delhi to strengthen its ties with neighboring countries.
Nepal has received doses of Covishield, a vaccine jointly developed by the British University of Oxford and British-Swedish pharma company AstraZeneca and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world in terms of volume.
The vaccine roll-out comes just over a year after Nepal registered its first Covid-19 case, and the country has so far registered 270,092 infections, including 3,252 active cases and over 2,000 deaths, according to data released by the health ministry.
In the first phase of the campaign, the jabs will be given to around 450,000 frontline workers in the fight against the pandemic, such as health workers and security personnel, apart from people living in old-age homes and prisoners.
This phase would last for around 10 days, with vaccinations being carried out in 120 centers spread across the 75 districts of the country, Health Minister Hridayesh Tripathi said, adding that people above the age of 55 – the most vulnerable to the disease – would be vaccinated in the second phase.
“Everyone between 40 to 55 years will be immunized in the third phase and the remaining population will be inoculated in the fourth round,” he said.
The director of the Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital in Kathmandu, Sagar Rajbhandari, became the first person to receive the jab as part of the drive.
“Over 600 health workers have been trained to run the immunization campaign. Booths with the capacity to immunize 200 people have been set up at the inoculation centers,” the doctor told EFE. EFE-EPA