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Coronavirus

Nepal approves AstraZeneca COVID vaccine for emergency use

Official data show country has had 266,816 cases so far and 1,948 deaths

Female soldiers carry the body of a coronavirus victim as family members mourn at a crematorium in Kathmandu, Nepal, Nov. 11.   © Reuters

KATHMANDU (Reuters) -- Nepal on Friday granted approval for AstraZeneca's Covishield vaccine against the coronavirus, the government said, following a meeting with neighboring India, a major manufacturer of the shot.

"Conditional permission has been granted for emergency use authorization of [the] Covishield vaccine against COVID-19 in Nepal," the Department of Drug Administration said.

Nepal has reported 266,816 cases and 1,948 deaths from COVID-19, according to official data.

The announcement follows a meeting between India's foreign minister S. Jaishankar and his Nepali counterpart Pradeep Kumar Gyawali on Friday during which "close cooperation" on the pandemic was discussed, according to a statement by India's foreign ministry.

The statement added that Nepal requested that India supply the Himalayan nation with vaccines, without providing further details.

India, one of the world's leading drugmakers, has already begun the manufacture of AstraZeneca's vaccine, as well as Covaxin, developed by domestic group Bharat Biotech International with a state-run institute.

India will begin its own vaccination drive on Saturday.

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