Disclaimer: This post was written before the most recent political and COVID-19 related changes in Nepal. It has been written based on facts and events from before May 18th, 2021.

COVID Situation in Nepal


What is it?

Since the corona virus outbreak in late 2019, many companies have produced vaccines. Out of all the vaccines, more than half of them go to the top 16 percent of high-income countries, while only 0.2 percent of low-income countries have been vaccinated[1] . This means that nearly 1 in 4 people of high income countries have already been vaccinated while only 1 in 500 people from low income countries have been vaccinated. For example, nearly 44% of the US, 51% of the UK, 37% of Canada, and 30% of Germany’s population have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine. Only 0.62 % of Afghanistan, 0.95 % of Pakistan, 7.18 % of Nepal and 0.64% of Egypt’s population has gotten one dose of vaccine, as of May 5, 2021[2] . High-income countries are still busy securing vaccines for their populations. However, this unequal distribution of vaccines will also affect those high-income countries. When larger groups of people are not vaccinated, the corona virus will last much longer in the world and continue to spread everywhere. It will take more time for the world to become corona free.

[1] Service, Tribune News. “Greed Triggers Gross Vaccine Inequality.” Tribune India News Service. Accessed May 9, 2021. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/greed-triggers-gross-vaccine-inequality-248780.

[2] Beaubien, Jason. “What Does Vaccine Inequality Look Like? See Chart.” NPR. NPR, April 22, 2021. https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2021/04/22/988814093/what-does-vaccine-inequality-look-like-see-chart.

Is the distribution process proportionate?

When the deadly corona virus broke out in December 2019, many companies, like Pfizer-BiNtech and Moderna, started to do research and trials to produce vaccines. High-income countries like the USA and the UK started to provide massive amounts of funding for those companies. In return, the companies promised to provide millions of doses of the vaccine to these counties. So, vaccines were already booked even before production. On the other hand, low-income countries couldn’t fund the companies and never got the chance to book vaccines. Now, many of the vaccines are already reserved by high-income countries and low-income countries are in the back of the line hoping to get the vaccines. Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna, Sinopharm, Johnson & Johnson, Russia’s Sputnik V, and Bharat Biotech are some of the widely used corona virus vaccines in the world. However, most of them have already been bought by high-income countries, including the USA, UK, and other European countries.

What is being done to solve it?

CEPI, Gavi, and the World Health Organization (WHO) have brought COVAX to the stage with the goal of providing vaccines to every country regardless of their financial ability. They plan to provide vaccines to at least 20% of the population of each country through COVAX. Therefore, they are asking countries to join with them and provide them with funds. So far, nearly 54 million doses of vaccines have already been sent to the countries through this plan as of May 2021[3]. If the COVAX plan is successful, it will be able to reduce the huge vaccine gap between high and low income countries. However, without collaboration with high-income countries, it is not possible for COVAX to reach its goals. Economically developed countries have already reserved huge amounts of the vaccine since they have the ability to fund the vaccine companies. They should be willing to provide some doses of the vaccine to COVAX. Many countries, including the US, have promised that they will provide some vaccines to COVAX, but nobody knows when. This is relevant because COVAX might not be able to supply the vaccines within the targeted time.

[3] “COVAX Facility.” Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Accessed May 9, 2021. https://www.gavi.org/covax-facility.

Where does Nepal stand?

In January, Nepal got 1 million doses of Covishield AstraZeneca vaccines from India. Then, in February Nepal paid India for 2 million doses of Covishield AstraZeneca vaccines and got another 1 million doses of the vaccine. In March, Nepal got 348,000 Covishield vaccines through COVAX Facility. In the same month, China also gave Nepal 800,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines. Another 100,000 doses of Covishield also arrived in Nepal from India for the Nepal Army. So far, Nepal has gotten around 3.5 million doses of vaccines. Around 2,112,000 people have been able to get their first doses of vaccines while 370,000 people have been fully vaccinated. This means only around 1.3 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, while 7.3 percent of the population has been able to get the first dose as of May 2021[4].

[4] Ritchie, Research and data: Hannah. “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccinations – Statistics and Research.” Our World in Data. Accessed May 9, 2021. https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations?country=NPL.

What plans does Nepal have?

Nepal is about to run out of vaccines. Although Nepal made advance payments for 2 million doses from India, India was only able to supply 1 million doses. Since India itself is suffering from a rapid increase of corona virus spread, it is unlikely that India will be able to provide the vaccines anytime soon. Nepal has talked with Russia to provide 8 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines[5]. However, no guarantee has been made. The Nepalese government has also talked with China, who has promised to provide vaccines to Nepal but hasn’t decided on when. The WHO has also promised to provide more vaccines through COVAX without specifying when it will be delivered. Therefore, there has been no clear agreement made on how and when Nepal will get vaccines. The Nepalese government doesn’t have any solid plan or goals to provide the vaccines to the Nepalese people.

At the same time, while corona virus cases are increasing in Nepal every day, the government’s major political parties are mainly focused on governmental issues. The country is facing a political crisis and instability as the major supporting party of the government has withdrawn its support for the government. Now, the prime minister has to get the vote of confidence within 30 days. Political leaders are focused on governance instead of making strong strategies and plans to get the vaccines. The political crisis has reduced the Nepalese public’s chances to get fully vaccinated anytime soon.

– Susmita Giri (6th cohort fellow)


[5] “कोरोना भाइरस नेपाल: ‘८० लाख मात्रा रुसी कोभिड खोप ल्याउने सम्झौता गर्न पहल, चीन र अमेरिकासँग पनि छलफल’.” BBC News नेपाली. BBC. Accessed May 9, 2021. https://www.bbc.com/nepali/news-56990507