Nepal Probes Everest Climbers’ Vaccine Gift

Everest Himalaya Manaslu
Mount Everest. Photo: Pixabay

Bureaucracy or caution? Investigation launched over Bahraini vaccines

Too good to be true? The Nepali Department of Drug Administration seems to think so, as Bahraini Prince Sheikh Mohamed Hamad Mohamed Al Khalifa bestowed 2,000 COVID-19 vaccines on Nepal when he arrived earlier this week for his Everest expedition. But the lack of prior notice and adherence to regulations have caused a stir among Nepali authorities.

Prince Sheikh Mohamed Hamad Mohamed Al Khalifa. Photo: AFP

The prince and his 15-member team of Bahraini Royal Guards, who were granted special access to the country amidst the pandemic last October to climb Manaslu, have returned for Everest. They have already been vaccinated and will be the first foreigners to reach Everest this year. According to the team’s Instagram posts and a correlating statement from the Bahraini Embassy, they wished to vaccinate the village of Samagaon, near Manaslu, as a gift. 

COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Frank Augstein/AP

It appears that some miscommunication took place between several entities. Seven Summit Treks organized the expedition and confirmed the Bahrainis’ plan to vaccinate the village. However, this was not communicated to the appropriate authorities. Despite Nepal’s shortage in vaccines, the Ministry of Health insists that this gift must clear the proper channels. All vaccines brought into the country must be pre-approved and proper storage verified.

Nepal started to inoculate its citizens in January and has reopened its borders to climbers after a mostly fallow 2020. Meanwhile, as the Bahrainis wait out their seven-day quarantine in Kathmandu before their 79-day expedition to Everest, the investigation begins. 

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About the Author

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu is a writer (and occasional photographer) based in sunny Trinidad and Tobago.

Since graduating from the University of Leicester with a BA in English and History, she has pursued a full-time writing career, exploring multiple niches before settling on travel and exploration. While studying for an additional diploma in travel journalism with the British College of Journalism, she began writing for ExWeb.

Currently, she works at a travel magazine in Trinidad as an editorial assistant and is also ExWeb's Weird Wonder Woman, reporting on the world's natural oddities as well as general stories from the world of exploration.

Although she isn't a climber (yet!), she hikes in the bush, has been known to make friends with iguanas and quote the Lord of the Rings trilogy from start to finish.

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Damien François
Damien François
8 months ago

Astral Z seems indeed to be a “gift”, but in the German sense of the word. 12 European countries have stopped injected it. Why do Senca and Socrates always come to mind when I hear or read Astral Z???
Looks like the Rusky Sputnik is the only good vax (I’d rather not have to get inoculated, certainly not with the Western “gifts”). Expect only the best from President Putin, I would say.

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Ash Routen
Editor
8 months ago

The European Medicines Agency and the UK MHRA has reviewed the blood clot data on the AZ vaccine and reiterated that the vaccine is safe and effective. These European countries will no doubt resume use of the AZ vaccine shortly. There are no ‘bad vaccines’. There is just a robust and transparent regulatory system in place to examine routine safety data.

I should also add that as well as placing confidence in our medical and healthcare regulators I was a participant in the Janssen vaccine trial and received my first dose of the AZ vaccine two weeks ago.

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Last edited 8 months ago by Ash Routen
Don Paul
Don Paul
8 months ago

It was a weird thing to do, arrive in a foreign country with 2,000 vaccine shots and think you can just start vaccinating people. Although in Nepal, the well placed baksheesh can make almost anything happen. It must been too complicated to just slip someone $1,000 at the airport.

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MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
8 months ago
Reply to  Don Paul

Also: Is it a “gift” if you broadcast it hoping to get good PR? Or if the intent is to vaccinate the village from which you are hiring porters, thereby minimizing risk to your expedition? A “gift” is that which is given without compensation or expectation of a benefit.
This seems more like a quid pro quo for getting a mountain (or two) named after your sovereign.

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