Ram Kumari Jhakri, a politician associated with the proposed Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Socialist). (File Photo)
KATHMANDU: Ram Kumari Jhakri, a politician associated with the proposed Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Socialist), a breakaway faction of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), speaking on Yoho Bahas program aired on August 18 on Yoho TV falsely claimed that Nepal could not import Covid-19 vaccine during the tenure of the erstwhile prime minister KP Sharma Oli.
During the interview, she said Prime Minister Oli issued a ‘pointy map’ of Nepal and hastily inaugurated the Dharahara in an attempt to project himself as a nationalist and development-oriented leader. She also claimed that there was no development project that was started and completed during his tenure.
She said in the interview: “Show me just one development project that was started and completed during his tenure. Not even the vaccine came. Not even the vaccine, you know….His advisors were tweeting that the 7 million vaccine doses donated by the US to Asia were for Nepal. He would mislead people with such claims and is still trying to do so.”
The claim by Jhakri, who is also a lawmaker in the House of Representatives, that no vaccine came during Oli’s tenure is false.
Let’s look at the facts.
Sher Bahadur Deuba was appointed prime minister on July 13, 2021. On the same day, the Health Ministry issued a report that said altogether 1,828,484 people had received their first dose of the Covishield vaccine and 460,743 people had received the second dose of the vaccine.
Likewise, 783,323 people had received their first dose of the Chinese Vero Cell vaccine and 642,396 people had received the second dose of the vaccine, according to the report.
The Oli government rolled out vaccination campaign seven months ago. The campaign kicked off after Dr Sagar Rajbhandari, the then director of Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, received the first jab of Covishield on January 27.
According to the Health Ministry, on January 21, 2021, India donated 1 million doses of Covishield vaccine to Nepal government and 100,000 doses of the vaccine to the Nepal Army.
In early 2021, Nepal struck a deal with India’s Serum Institute to procure 2 million doses of Covishield. Though 1 million doses arrived on 21 February 2021, the Indian company failed to send the remaining shipment, dealing a blow to the country’s vaccination drive.
As Nepal scrambled for vaccines, China stepped in providing 1.8 million doses of the Vero Cell vaccine produced by Chinese company Sinopharm. In late March, Nepal received 800,000 doses of Vero Cell.
In early June, the Chinese government sent an additional 1 million doses of the Vero Cell vaccine. Similarly, under the Covax program, a UN-backed scheme to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines, Nepal received 304,800 doses of the Covishield vaccine. The US government also donated over 1.5 million doses of the single-dose Janssen vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson.
In June, Nepal government struck a deal to buy 4 million doses of Vero Cell with Sinopharm, with the first consignment arriving on July 21, 2021. The deal was struck by the Oli government.
Although the Astrazeneca vaccine Japan donated to Nepal arrived on August 7, after Deuba was appointed the prime minister, the country had announced the delivery months earlier. The Japanese-donated jabs were administered to the elderly who had not received the second dose after the Indian company failed to deliver Covishield vaccines to Nepal.
Therefore, Jhakri’s claim that Nepal didn’t receive Covid-19 vaccines during former Prime Minister Oli’s tenure is false.