Kathmandu: Nepal on Wednesday launched a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive with the one million doses of vaccine provided by India under grant assistance in sync with its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.Also Read - Nepal Bans Big Public Gatherings, Closes Schools Amid Surge In COVID Cases

Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli inaugurated the vaccination campaign at the Prime Minister’s residence at Baluwatar on Wednesday morning. Also Read - Nepal To Make 'Vaccination Cards' Mendatory For Entry Into Public Places Amid Surge In COVID Cases

At the same time, government hospitals across the country vaccinated doctors and front-line health workers actively engaged in the field. Also Read - From Delhi to Maharashtra, How States Gearing Up To Vaccinate Kids Above 15 From Jan 3 | Details Here

Speaking at the inaugural programme, Prime Minister Oli said that all Nepalis would get the vaccine free of cost within three months.

Dr Sagar Rajbhandari, director of Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, Teku was the first among the front-line workers to receive the jab, according to Health Ministry sources.

According to officials, around 430,000 frontline workers health workers, supporting staffers at health facilities, female community health volunteers, security personnel, sanitation workers, elderly people living in care homes, and prisoners will be inoculated in 65 districts across the country.

One million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine donated by India last week was jointly developed by the University of Oxford and the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and produced in India by the Serum Institute of India.

Prime Minister Oli last week thanked the Indian government for sending one million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I thank Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi ji as well as the Government and people of India for the generous grant of one million doses of COVID vaccine to Nepal at this critical time when India is rolling out vaccination for it’s own people,” Oli tweeted.

“Nepal appreciates this gesture from a friendly neighbour,” he added. Responding to his tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India remains committed to assist the people of Nepal in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. “The vaccines being made in India will also contribute to the global efforts to contain the pandemic,” Modi tweeted.

Nepal has so far registered 270,375 COVID-19 cases while 2,020 people have died. Nepal has so far recorded 265,069 recoveries.

India, one of the world’s biggest drugmakers, has been approached by numerous countries for its anti-coronavirus doses.

India has already rolled out a massive coronavirus vaccination drive under which two vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, are being administered to frontline health workers across the country.