A meeting of the parliamentary Committee for Education and Health in progress at Singha Durbar Monday. (Photo: RSS)
KATHMANDU: The incumbent government has decided to procure over 10 million doses of vaccines against COVID-19 by mid-October this year and forecast the third wave of the pandemic to start in October.
Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Population Laxman Aryal, at a meeting of the Committee for Education and Health under the House of Representatives here Monday, shared that a total of 15,048,000 doses will arrive by then. Vaccines would be received in grant assistance, through COVAX scheme, and procured through own resources.
Aryal shared that 6 million doses of China-made Vero Cell vaccine would arrive by mid-December this year while the India-manufactured 1 million doses of Covishield are scheduled to arrive towards the third week of August. Likewise, a total of 1.6 million doses of Vero Cell would arrive Nepal from China under foreign grant assistance by mid-August.
The government of Japan is also sending 1.6 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines by third week of August under the COVAX program. Additional 338,000 doses of vaccines against COVID-19 are also likely under COVAX, said Aryal.
Chief of Division of Policy Program and Monitoring Dr. Gunaraj Lohani during the meeting shed light on the COVID-19 response efforts of the government and shared future action-plan to contain the infection. According to Dr. Lohani, additional 30.2 million doses of vaccines are likely to arrive Nepal within mid-October this year to mid-April next year.
Vaccines targeted for children and teenagers of various age group (12-18 years) are also likely to be ferried to Nepal over the course, it was shared. The government has targeted to vaccinate 20.14 million people from the target group in the first phase and 4.9 million people from 12-18 years in the second phase by mid-April next year.
A total of 50.35 million doses of vaccine are needed to cater to these targeted groups, said Aryal. Process was forwarded to procure vaccines against flu-like infection for people above 12 years. For the children, around 6 million doses of Pfizer would be brought to Nepal.
So far, according to the Ministry of Health and Population, 15.8 per cent (3,405,154) of the total population have been administered the first doses of vaccine and 6.6 per cent (1,430,416) have received the second doses of various vaccines to be administered in double-shot. Nepal has received a total of 9,782,850 doses of vaccines till date.
Among them Vero Cell was brought from China in 3.2 million doses, India-made Covishield in 1 million. American vaccines produced by Johnson and Johnson were brought to Nepal in over 1.5 million doses and India’s Covishield in 348,000 under COVAX.
Under the foreign assistance, 2.9 million doses of vaccines were procured out of which China-made Vero Cell were ferried in 1.8 million doses and 1.1 million in India. The government itself procured 5 million doses of vaccines from various countries.
Ministry’s Secretary Aryal said that the ICU beds in the country reached 3,000 while 630 more beds would be added to the existing capacity. At present, the number of ventilators is 900 and processes have been initiated to add 180 more.
Furthermore, the high dependency unit (HDU) beds exceed 2,070 in government hospitals while the private hospitals have 778 HDU beds. It is said that 1,400 more other HDU beds would be put in place soon.
Considering the possible outbreak of third wave of COVID-19, plans are afoot to add 275 ICU beds, including 180 ventilators, targeting children. And, oxygen supplies have been increased.
According to Secretary Aryal, the daily supply of oxygen at present in 120 metric tons adding that 3,500 oxygen concentrators would be made available soon.
Chief of Ministry’s Policy, Planning and Monitoring Division Dr. Lohani said that forecast has been made for the third wave of COVID-19 from October 1, adding that the prohibitory order has been relaxed but the health protocol has not been followed.
Dr Lohani was of the view that children would be hit hard from the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also said that the country is likely to witness 193,856 new cases of coronavirus till the end of 2021.