Doses of the Sinopharm coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine are pictured on February 26, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

KATHMANDU – The Nepali government has decided to administer the COVID-19 vaccine donated by China on Wednesday amid resurging cases of novel coronavirus in the Himalayan country, an official of the Ministry of Health and Population said.

On March 29, a batch of Chinese COVID-19 vaccines developed by Sinopharm was delivered to Nepal.

“The Chinese vaccine will be inoculated among people starting from Wednesday,” Jageshwor Gautam, spokesperson at the health ministry, told a press conference.

“Those involved in essential services, students studying in China under the Chinese government scholarship but are currently stuck in Nepal due to pandemic, Nepali students preparing to leave for China for the higher study and people involved in cross-border trade between Nepal and China will be inoculated with the Chinese vaccine.”

According to the ministry, essential workers include the people who are working in postal and telephone services, water supply and distribution, hotels and restaurant, public transportation services, electricity supply, storage and transportation of consumer goods, sales and distribution of medicines and the health workers who had missed out in the first phase of the vaccination drive that began on Jan 27.

Gautam said the Chinese vaccines would be administered from designated hospitals in Kathmandu Valley. The Nepali government is vaccinating with Chinese vaccines at a time when the number of COVID-19 cases has started to rise in Nepal.

Nepal reported 176 COVID-19 cases on Monday. In early March, the cases went down below 50 per day.

The Chinese vaccines arrived when the Himalayan country was struggling to get enough vaccines from other sources to continue its vaccination drive. Nepal has so far inoculated over 1.7 million people in two phases, according to the Ministry of Health and Population.

On Feb 17, the Nepali Department of Drug Administration approved the vaccine developed by China’s Beijing Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd under Sinopharm, for the emergency use in Nepal.