Nepal President seeks vaccination supplies from US, UK, Russia

Nepal President seeks vaccination supplies from US, UK, Russia

Kathmandu: Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari has appealed to the top leaders in the US, the UK and Russia to supply COVID-19 vaccines to her country which is completely dependent on foreign support for the doses, according to a media report on Tuesday.

Nepal Ambassador to the US, Yubaraj Khatiwada forwarded the letter written by Bhandari to US Department of State Senior Adviser Ervin Massinga, The Himalayan Times reported. The letter has been addressed to President Joe Biden.

The Nepali Embassy in Washington DC said Khatiwada expected significant support from the US. The mission said Nepal aims to procure the vaccine manufactured by US-based Johnson & Johnson.

A similar request was forwarded by the Embassy of Nepal, UK, to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II via the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the UK on Tuesday, the newspaper reported.

In her letter to Russian President Vlamidir Putin, Bhandari said Nepal would immediately like to purchase Russia's Sputnik vaccine.

The Nepalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the embassy in Moscow was sending the letter to Putin's office through the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

President Bhandari last week wrote to her Indian counterpart Ram Nath Kovind to help Nepal with vaccines.

She communicated to President Kovind via a diplomatic channel, requesting him to take initiative to provide the vaccines, the Himalayan Times reported on May 26.

She also spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping and told him that Nepal was looking forward to purchasing China manufactured vaccines for its people.

Just over 6.8 lakh people have been vaccinated in Nepal, which is about 2.4 per cent of the population. The country is completely dependent on foreign support for immunisation doses as it does not have a single facility to produce it.

On January 2, Nepal received 1 million doses from the Serum Institute of India (SII), under India's 'Vaccine Maitri' initiative. It has also received a total of 348,000 doses of Covishield vaccine under the international COVAX facility on March 7.

The Himalayan Times reported that the COVAX facility has suggested Nepal to find an alternative to Covishield vaccines due to the inability expressed by the Serum Institute of India to export vaccines amid a surge in demand for the same in the domestic market.

China has so far provided 800,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in assistance to Nepal. China has also committed to provide a million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Nepal under grant assistance.

Last week, President Bhandari appealed to her Indian and Chinese counterparts -- President Ram Nath Kovind and Chinese President Xi Jinping -- to help her country in getting uninterrupted supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

The second wave of the pandemic seems to have eased in Nepal, but around 4,000 new cases are still being reported daily.

The Coronavirus has so far claimed 7,386 lives in the country, along with 561,302 confirmed infections, according to official data.

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