Nepal launched its largest vaccination campaign on Wednesday with its first coronavirus vaccinations for medical workers after a million doses were donated from India.
A doctor at a teaching hospital in the capital, Kathmandu, wearing a traditional black peaked cap and sleeveless red vest, was the first to receive a dose taken from a bed of ice in a cubic blue cooler and injected by masked and dressed staff.
“We now have a new weapon and I hope we can defeat the coronavirus soon,” said 50-year-old Dinesh Kafle after being applauded by those who stood in line as he stepped forward in a white-walled room the campaign was based on a poster advertisement.
Tens of thousands of Nepalese health workers on the front lines are said to be receiving Indian vaccine AstraZeneca, caretaker Prime Minister K.P. Said Sharma Oli as the journey began.
“We are in talks with India to get more vaccines at a reasonable price,” added Oli, who is seeking popular support at a time when he is seeking early elections.
This month India announced it would give its South Asian neighbors millions of doses of vaccine, hailing it as a backlash against China’s activities in the region.
According to authorities, China, which had promised to help Nepal deal with the pandemic, has not yet received approval for its Sinopharm shots.
“We were able to start our vaccination campaign within a week of India’s start,” said Oli, who had recently been expelled from the ruling Communist Party by opponents because of his abrupt decision in December to dissolve parliament and seek early elections.
With a population of more than 30 million, Nepal has 270,092 infections and 2,017 deaths.