ECONOMYNEXT – Fifteen thousand doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine arrived in Sri Lanka this morning for a trial-rollout, officials said.
According to Chairman of the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) Dr Prasanna Gunasena, the consignment arrived at 02.30am Sri Lankan time at the Bandaranaike International Airport.
Gunasena told Sri Lanka’s ABC media network yesterday that the jabs were sent as a test consignment for Russian officials to personally supervise the process of an initial rollout.
“They’ll be supervising everything from the point they land in Sri Lanka: how we release the consignment from the airport, how we transport it and how we store it,” he said.
“Once they’re satisfied with our processes, they will send the rest,” he added.
The cabinet of ministers had previously approved the purchase of seven million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine for a sum of USD 69.65 million. The ministers on April 05 approved a proposal to purchase another six million doses at a price of USD 9.95 per dose.
Dr Gunaseana had previously said the timeline for the arrival of the Russian jab was 200,000 doses by April, 400,000 by May, 800,000 by June and 1.2 million by July.
“It was delayed due to some reason, but the Russian authorities have promised to send the rest of the vaccine as scheduled,” Gunasena said yesterday.
Quoting the Health Ministry’s epidemiology unit, it has been advised to administer the Sputnik V vaccine to citizens under the age of 60. The geographical areas where the vaccine will be distributed has yet to be declared, however.
Gunasena said at a press conference last month that Sri Lanka has also signed agreements with the US-based Pfizer Inc. The multinational pharmaceutical giant has communicated to the SPC that between April to June, 35,000 doses will be delivered to Sri Lanka, followed by 105,000 from July to September and 4.8 million from October to December.
In order for Sri Lanka to reach herd immunity, he said, out of a population of 21 million, 13 million should be vaccinated. The funds to this end will be provided by the Asia Development Bank, the World Bank and the government, he added.
Meanwhile, the World Bank said last week that it had approved an 80.5 million US dollar credit to finance Sri Lanka’s battle against COVID-19 on top of 217.5 million dollars approved in April 2020.
Sri Lanka started rolling out the second dose of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine last week and, according to epidemiology unit data, 94,436 out of 925,242 have received their second shot as of May 02. (Colombo/May03/2021)