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Nepal to buy two million vaccines from India at subsidised rates

Nepal to purchase vaccines from India (Photo: Sulav Shrestha/Xinhua/IANS)

The Nepal government on Tuesday decided to procure two million doses of Covid-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute of India at a subsidised rate.

A cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening paved the way to procure two million Covishied vaccines at $4 per dose, Nepal's Health Minister Hrydesh Tripathi said.

Earlier in January, Nepal had received one million doses of Covid vaccine from India on a grant, and nationwide immunisation is underway in the country for frontline workers and others.

After India gave one million vaccines to Nepal, China also announced that it will grant half a million Covid vaccines to Nepal, but the government of Nepal is yet to give emergency authorisation for the use of Chinese vaccine.

In order to ease the vaccine procurement process and secure the doses as early as possible, the government has decided to pay in advance in the purchase of the Covishield vaccine from India, said Tripathi.

Although an agreement was reached with the SII to purchase one dose of the vaccine for $4, the procurement process had not proceeded for the payment. Nepal's Public Procurement law does not permit to procure any items by paying full down-payment.

"After the Serum Institute of India did not agree to send shipments of Covid vaccine without full payment in advance, the procurement process was not moving ahead. We removed the bottlenecks to procure the vaccine," said Tripathi, adding that now it is sure that Nepal will get the vaccines at a discounted rate.

The government of India played a special role to procure vaccines at a subsidiary rate, Tripathi added.

As of Tuesday, Nepal has reported a total 2,72,945 Covid cases and 2,055 deaths.