China's vaccine aid to Nepal example of public good
An insufficient vaccine supply forced the Nepal government to halt its inoculation campaign against COVID-19. The health authority of Nepal postponed the campaign onMarch 17, directly affecting planstovaccinate people aged 60and older. Nepal has been using the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine provided by the Indian Serom Institute of India. As the company couldn't supply a sufficient number of vaccines, Nepal today is in dire need of them.To date, over 1.6million people have been vaccinated, mainly frontline workers.
A surge of COVID cases in India recently has alarmed Nepal as both countries share open borders. As an underdeveloped country, it won't be easy for Nepal to bear additional burden of the pandemic, which has already withered the national economy. Under such a situation Nepal has no other option than to speed up the vaccination campaign. But the unavailability of vaccines has put Nepal into a quagmire.
China has always been supportive to Nepal in every adverse situation. The Nepalese people won't forget the assistance the Chinese government and people provided duringthe April 2015 earthquake. When the Nepalese people metany critical misfortune, Chinese aid and assistance always arrived, like precious water in the middle of a desert. Friends in need are friends indeed. This is a frequent statement whenever we discuss Nepal-China relations as it reflects the reality.
China provided 800,000 COVID-19 vaccines to Nepal recently. The Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yangqi handed the vaccines to the Nepalese authority amid a ceremony. In an article publishedin a national daily newspaper in Nepal, Ambassador Hou said that the vaccinesthe Chinese government granted to Nepal, with a joint initiative of both governments, crossing the high Himalayas, arrivedin Kathmandu on March22. She further said,"From the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, China, joining hands with Nepal, has been cooperating through various mean sand facing hard timestogether that added new and bright pages to the history of friendly relations."
Chinese President Xi Jinping has aimed to make COVID-19 vaccines a "public good" and committed to providing China-made vaccines to countries in need. At the time when the whole world is struggling to come out of this disaster and vaccinations being the onlyway out, Xi's idea expresses the voice of the whole world and inevitable solution for the unprecedented challenge humankind is facing.
Against such a backdrop, some Western drug companies are using the crisis for a tremendous increase in their profits. Some companies are playing foul in an attempt to have a strangle hold on the market, which subsequently does not create an environment of cooperation and solidarity among the international community. A draconian, business-minded mentality only increasesthe panic and severity of the pandemic.
As time has proved, halting COVID-19 transmission in a single country can never be a substantial solution. Until the whole globe conquersthe virus, it's not worth having any celebrations. The world has no other option than to help one another and turn away from aself-centered way of thinking.
The health authority in Nepal has not issued any plan yet for the optimum utilization of the vaccine that China provided. Some members in Parliament have demanded the authority resume a new phase of the vaccination campaign utilizing the Chinese vaccine. Some peoplehave cautiously warned the government authority not to dump the medical aid in government warehouses, as was once done during the 2015 earthquake. No power ploy should be used when it comes to the issue of the welfare of humankind.
China set an example to the world for how to manage the virus well and has also assisted the whole worldin facing it. As a neighboring country, Nepal prayed for the well-being of China during its hard time and in return China has done a lot of good for the Nepalese people.
Many thanks to the Chinese government, Chinese Communist Party, Chinese leaders and people for always being kind and friendly towards Nepal and the Nepalese people.
Niraj Lawoju is a Kathmandu-based journalist.
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