Nepal Probes Everest Climbers’ Vaccine Gift

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.