Nepal approved on Friday (January 15) the use of 'Covishield' COVID-19 vaccine, which is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) on the basis of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine prototype.
Even after a prolonged diplomatic build-up with China, much to India's scepticism, Nepal has ultimately approved for emergency use a vaccine manufactured by India to ward off the menace of the coronavirus disease.
"Conditional permission has been granted for emergency use authorization of Covishield vaccine against Covid-19 in Nepal," a statement by the country's Department of Drug Administration said.
According to reports, the first shipment of vaccines from India will arrive in Nepal over the next two weeks. India also plans to export the vaccine to Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and several other countries in Latin America and Africa.
Considering the fact that the Serum Institute of India is the largest vaccine manufacturer in the entire world, the country is expected to use the resource to its advantage in securing its foothold in the international sphere and build ties with neighbours in South Asia, especially in the face of an increasingly hostile China.
The vaccine race is not just a question of economics and survivability, it is also, inevitably, set to reshape key policies in international relations and bilateral ties between countries, as humankind struggles to find a solution to this unprecedented health crisis.
Covishield is developed by the Oxford University and British-Swedish company AstraZeneca and manufactured by the Pune-based pharma firm Serum Institute of India.
Meanwhile, India is all set to commence the world's biggest immunization exercise tomorrow, and the national capital has completed all the preparations to innoculate its priority groups, with healthcare workers, who will be the first to receive the silver bullet, clearly excited.
The vaccination drive is slated to kick off on Saturday. The rollout is expected to cover three lakh frontline healthcare workers at 3,006 sites across India on the first day.
The Union Health Ministry has said that 1.1 crore 'Covishield' and 55 lakh 'Covaxin' doses have been procured at a price of Rs 200 and Rs 206 per dose, respectively.