Kathmandu, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- Nepal on Thursday said the 2,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses brought to the country by a Bahraini prince were Chinese jabs not approved by the health authorities of the Himalayan nation.
The vaccine doses brought in by Sheikh Mohamed Hamad Mohamed al-Khalifa for an unauthorized small-scale vaccination campaign were thought to be Oxford-AstraZeneca.
“The vaccines from Bahrain are Chinese and of a company for which Nepal has not granted emergency use authorization,” a highly-placed health ministry source told EFE.
Nepal’s drug regulator was investigating the matter that has snowballed into an unintended international faux pas.
“We cannot use a vaccine that has not been granted emergency use approval by our drug regulator,” Roshan Pokhrel, chief specialist at the health ministry, told EFE.
Pokhrel said the drug administration department had the right to confiscate any vaccine or medicine brought into the country without permission.
Nepal so far has given emergency authorization use to Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, produced by the Serum Institute of India under the brand name Covishield.
The government has also authorized the use of BBIBP-CorV, a Chinese vaccine manufactured by Sinopharm.
The prince and the rest of the 15-member group, including three British citizens, arrived in Nepal earlier this week to scale Mt Everest in May.
The team scaled the world’s eighth highest peak Mt Manaslu in October as part of the Everest preparation.
The Embassy of Nepal in Bahrain, in a statement Monday, said the prince carried 2,000 doses of vaccines with him as a gift to the people of a village in the Gorkha district.
The embassy, in its statement, said the jabs were Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.
The shipment is at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport warehouse.
Officials were now considering destroying the vaccine doses as they are of no use.
But an official said since the matter was related to a royal family of Bahrain with which Nepal has friendly relations, discussions were underway to settle the issue.
“It seems that they have brought the vaccine in haste In Nepal,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
A health ministry official said the vaccines would be handed over to the drug administration department.
Santosh KC, a spokesperson for the department, told EFE that his office had been coordinating with the foreign and health ministries to resolve the issue.
The nationalnews.com, a United Arab Emirates-based online portal, said that the prince had all the required paperwork.
“To clarify, the Bahraini team arriving in Nepal had full approval to enter the country with a shipment of 2,000 vaccine doses,” the portal quoted a government spokesman as saying.