China-donated COVID-19 vaccine to cost Nepal over 21 mln for air freight

27 March 2021, Kathmandu

The Nepal government is set to bring China-donated 800,000 dozes of COVID-19 vaccine on a chartered flight costing a huge amount of airfare.

According to Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC), the transportation cost of the China-donated COVID-19 vaccine will reach a total of Rs 21,810,300.

The Ministry of Health and Population has said that the government is chartering a special airbus to bring in the COVID-19 vaccine after the China government did not allow to transport it on a passenger plane.

NAC’s airbus will fly to China on Monday to freight in the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Sinopharm Company.

Dr Jageshwar Gautam, the spokesperson at the Health Ministry, says the government will transport the Sinopharm vaccine by bearing the transportation cost on its own.

It should be recalled that the World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet given approval to the China-manufactured Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for use and it is being brought to Nepal without a document of clinical trial.

When asked about its safety prior to WHO’s approval, Dr Gautan said, “The AstraZenaca Covishield had also been allowed only for emergency at the beginning, later it was approved. The government is bringing Sinopharm vaccine for an emergency use. It is being used in 12 to 15 countries in the world, currently.”

It is learnt that the government is under pressure to bring in the China-manufactured COVID-19 from the Chinese Embassy.

China did not provide a clinical trial document of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine to Nepal despite the latter’s several requests. Earlier, India had delivered Covishield vaccine to Nepal on its own expenses.

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