Amid a deadly second wave of Covid-19 in Nepal, 1.4 million people from at risk groups, mostly above 65 years of age, were unable to receive their second dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines due to a supply shortage. Following a wait of more than five months between doses, additional vaccines have been now delivered to Nepal by various countries.
In response to international mobilisation calling on the UK to urgently look to directly supply Nepal with additional vaccine doses, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, sent a communication to Amnesty International acknowledging the needs and reiterated UK’s commitment to support Nepal.
On 26 August 2021, the government of UK delivered 130,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to Nepal. Earlier, the government of Japan donated 1.6 million doses, and the government of Bhutan shared 230,000 doses as part of a tri-patriate vaccine lending agreement with AstraZeneca and Nepal.
While it is a relief that the required doses were delivered to Nepal in August, this case is symptomatic of a broader issue regarding a lack of equitable access to vaccines worldwide. Amnesty International continues to advocate for global equality in access to vaccines for low- and middle-income countries.