Nepali govt prepares disposal of unused COVID-19 vaccines amidst changes in booster dose strategy

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Kathmandu: As the Nepali government grapples with changes in its COVID-19 vaccination strategy, approximately 4 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine provided by the Chinese government may go unused. In response, the Ministry of Health and Population has initiated preparations for the disposal, or ‘disposal,’ of these vaccines.

The Sinopharm vaccines, initially provided as part of aid from the Chinese government, are now set to be disposed of after the decision not to use them for booster doses. Ministry of Health and Population has disclosed that discussions are underway regarding the possible incineration of the vaccines or their burial in concrete pits to ensure safe disposal.

With concerns about the efficacy of Sinopharm as a booster dose and the expiration of its shelf life, the Ministry is taking precautionary measures to manage the unused vaccine supply. In light of the uncertainty surrounding the availability of booster doses, the Ministry is taking steps to manage the existing stock of vaccines, emphasizing the importance of maintaining the integrity of the vaccination program.

The decision not to use Sinopharm for booster doses was made after the World Health Organization (WHO) did not recommend its use for this purpose.

Dr. Abhayan Gautam, Chief of the Child Health and Immunization Section, mentioned that if the Sinopharm vaccines are not used for booster doses and if individuals refuse the first and second doses, the National Vaccine Advisory Committee has decided not to administer the Sinopharm vaccine. The focus remains on individuals receiving their first and second doses, and the national stockpile of vaccines stored in the central storage facility of the Department of Health Services will be utilized accordingly.

The Ministry’s actions reflect its commitment to adapt to changes in vaccination guidelines and ensure the effective management of vaccine supplies to protect the population against COVID-19.