Nepal President appeals to Indian, Chinese counterparts to provide COVID-19 vaccines to her country
Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Wednesday appealed to her Indian and Chinese counterparts to help her country in getting uninterrupted supply of COVID-19 vaccines as it faces a huge shortage of the coronavirus shots, according to media reports.
President Bhandari wrote to her Indian counterpart President Ram Nath Kovind to help Nepal on the matter, The Himalayan Times reported.
She communicated to President Kovind via a diplomatic channel, requesting him to take initiative to provide the vaccines, it said.
President Bhandari also thanked India for providing vaccines under India’s ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative and the COVAX facility.
On January 2, Nepal received one million doses from the Serum Institute of India (SII). It has also received a total of 348,000 doses of Covishield vaccine under the COVAX facility on March 7.
Bhandari also held an hour-long telephone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
During their conversation, Bhandari informed President Xi that Nepal is looking forward to purchasing China manufactured vaccines for its people.
She appealed to the Chinese government to make the vaccines available for procurement at the earliest possible.
President Xi assured his Nepalese counterpart that China will continue providing as much support as possible for Nepal’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that he believes the Nepali people will surely win the final victory over the virus.
Since the onset of the pandemic, China and Nepal have firmly supported each other in fighting against the coronavirus disease, and carried out in-depth anti-epidemic cooperation, which has highlighted the spirit of sticking together through thick and thin, Xi was quoted as saying by China’s official Xinhua news agency.
Noting that South Asia is undergoing a new wave of infections and Nepal is facing severe challenges, Xi said the Chinese central and local governments as well as non-governmental organisations were among the first to take actions, offering much-needed medical supplies and equipment as well as vaccines to Nepal, and sharing with the Nepali side experience in epidemic prevention, control, diagnosis and treatment.
Recalling that he and Bhandari jointly announced the new height of Mount Qomolangma (Mount Everest) in December last year, Xi stressed that China attaches great importance to the development of China-Nepal relations, and is willing to share China’s development opportunities with Nepal.
He called for concerted efforts to accelerate Belt and Road cooperation, steadily advance the building of the trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network, and continuously lift the two countries’ strategic partnership of cooperation featuring ever-lasting friendship for development and prosperity to higher levels, the report said.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the lawful seat of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations, Xi stressed, adding that China will not forget Nepal’s valuable support.
China will, as always, support Nepal in safeguarding national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, respect the Nepali people’s independent choice of development path, and support Nepal’s economic and social development, Xi said.
So far, China has 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.
The Himalayan Times report said that the COVAX facility had 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.
Earlier, COVAX had committed to providing the country with 1,920,000 doses of Covishield by May.
However, after the SII shared its concerns, COVAX has found it hard to supply Nepal with the remaining committed doses of vaccine, the report said.
Nepal on Wednesday reported 6,714 new cases of COVID-19, taking the country’s total tally to 535,525.
The country has reported 6,700 COVID-19-related deaths so far.