KATHMANDU, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Nepal received an additional 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from India on Sunday, as the country prepares to launch the second phase of the inoculation drive on March 7, according to the Ministry of Health and Population.
Nepal received 1 million doses of the Covishield vaccine provided by the Indian government as grant assistance on Jan. 21.
On Feb. 17, the Nepali government signed a procurement agreement with Serum Institute of India for 2 million doses of the Covishield vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.
"We have received 1 million doses of Covishield vaccine on Sunday in the first phase as per the procurement agreement signed with the Indian company," Jageshwor Gautam, spokesperson at Nepal's Ministry of Health and Population, told a press conference on Sunday.
"Additional 1 million doses of vaccine are also expected to arrive soon as per the timetable set by the health ministry."
It is the first time that the Himalayan country purchased the COVID-19 vaccines.
Gautam said the Nepali government used the vaccines provided by the Indian government to inoculate over 400,000 people under the first phase of the vaccination drive which started on Jan. 27.
Health workers, security personnel, people engaged in waste management, elected representative and journalists were inoculated in the first phase.
Nepal's health ministry said it would launch the second phase of vaccination drive on March 7 to inoculate people above 55 years of age with the vaccines that arrived on Sunday.
The government plans to vaccinate 72 percent of its population aged 15 years and above.
Nepal is also set to receive Chinese vaccine after the Chinese government announced early this month that it would provide Nepal with a batch of vaccines.
Earlier this week, Nepal's drug regulator granted approval to the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's Beijing Institute of Biological Products Co., Ltd, under Sinopharm, for emergency use in Nepal.
The approval of the drug regulator is a pre-condition for any vaccine to be eligible for use in the Himalayan country. Enditem