India on Thursday handed over one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Nepal under grant assistance in sync with its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
Indian Ambassador to Nepal Vinay Mohan Kwatra handed over the vaccine consignment to Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli during a function at the Prime Minister’s residence at Baluwatar, officials said.
Health Minister Hridayesh Tripathi and senior government officials were also present on the occasion.
In the first phase, the vaccines will be administered to frontline health workers, employees and security personnel, according to Tripathi.
Earlier in the morning, an Air India aircraft carrying the first consignment of COVID-19 vaccines manufactured in India landed at the Tribhuvan International Airport here.
The vaccines were unloaded from the aircraft and later they were transported in refrigeration van to the Department of Health Services in Teku on the outskirts of Kathmandu, where health workers unloaded and stored them as per protocol.
Nepal last week gave a conditional approval to use Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
The approval coincided with the sixth meeting of the India-Nepal Joint Commission in New Delhi which was attended by Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali.
During the meeting, Nepal congratulated India on the remarkable success in the production of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines and requested for early provision of vaccines to Nepal.
Tripathi on Wednesday thanked the government of India for the grant assistance and expressed hope that Nepal will get necessary help from the southern neighbour in purchasing more vaccines in the coming days to meet the country’s requirements.
Nepal’s coronavirus caseload has reached 268,310 while 1,975 people have died.
India on Tuesday said it will send COVID-19 vaccines under grant assistance to Bhutan, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles from Wednesday and supplies to Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius will commence after confirmation of necessary regulatory clearances.
On Wednesday, India sent 150,000 doses of Covisheild vaccines to Bhutan and 100,000 doses to the Maldives.
India is one of the world’s biggest drugmakers, and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring the coronavirus vaccines.
India has already rolled out a massive coronavirus vaccination drive under which two vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, are being administered to frontline health workers across the country.
While Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield is being manufactured by the Serum Institute, and the Covaxin is being produced by Bharat Biotech.
The Ministry of External Affairs has said it will be ensured that domestic manufacturers will have adequate stocks to meet domestic requirements while supplying abroad.