Life & Health
Amid concerns over the possible spread of a new wave of Covid-19 in early 2023, the Ministry of Health and Population has intensified efforts to procure six million doses of Covid vaccine.
Once imported, the vaccine would be used to ensure smooth supply of booster doses in Nepal’s health facilities. They are currently facing a shortage of booster doses to inoculate Nepali masses.
The Ministry’s move follows concerns over the possible spread of a new wave of Covid-19 stemming from the newest Omicron variant BF.7 – which is rapidly spreading to China and several East Asian countries.
But if you are in a hurry to get your second – or even first – booster dose, it’s unlikely you will get it any time soon. Officials say you will have to wait until the end of January 2023 when the Covid vaccine ordered by Nepal is expected to arrive.
Dr Bibek Kumar Lal, director at Family Welfare Division told NepalMinute.com: “The demand and supply chain has been disturbed because of the high demand. We were in need of six million doses.”
According to him, things got delayed because the World Health Organization recommended bivalent – meaning updated vaccine - doses for more efficacy. “Now the Department of Drug Administration has given us the permission to buy bivalent doses,” he added.
Subsequently, the government requested suppliers to send three million doses, following which a confirmation for 1.5 million doses has been made. “But as people are celebrating New Year in foreign countries it will take some time to arrive in Nepal,” he added.
Nepal has been getting Covid vaccines through COVAX facility, which is funded by Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Norway, Qatar, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union as well as several foundations and corporations.
With whatever little – dwindling - stock available in Nepal, 13,338 people were vaccinated on Thursday. As of December 30, the ministry says, 79.5 per cent of the population have taken the first dose of vaccine while 27.31 per cent have taken additional doses of the vaccine.
What is Bivalent vaccine
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, the bivalent COVID-19 vaccines include a component of the original virus strain to provide broad protection against COVID-19 and a component of the omicron variant to provide better protection against COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant.
These are called bivalent COVID-19 vaccines because they contain these two components. A bivalent COVID-19 vaccine may also be referred to as “updated” COVID-19 vaccine booster dose.
A single booster dose with an updated bivalent COVID-19 vaccine provides broad protection against COVID-19 and is expected to provide better protection against COVID-19 caused by the currently circulating Omicron variant, the FDA says.
The number of coronavirus cases have been rising in China, India, South Korea, and the United States of America as a BF.7 variant of the virus has been circulating in these countries.
The sub-variant of omicron has not yet been detected in Nepal as of December 30 but the country saw a rise in the number of infections this week.
As per the ministry, the country reported 14 cases of coronavirus on December 29. The numbers were recorded after testing 858 samples (319 in RT-PCR and 539 in antigen tests) in the last 24 hours.
However, only four cases of infection were reported on December 30.
There were eight cases of coronavirus on December 27 and a single case on December 26. No case was reported on December 24.
There are 29 active cases of the infection across the country.
The health ministry has been requesting people to follow public health measures to help prevent the infection from spreading.
As per the ministry 12,019 people have died of Covid-19 till December 29.