Covishield arrives in Sri Lanka; to be delivered to six main hospitals today

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa accepting the consignment of Covishield vaccines at the BIA this morning 28)

ECONOMYNEXT – An Air India flight carrying half a million vials of India’s Covishield vaccine arrived in Colombo this morning, according to news.lk, the government’s official news portal.

The consignment, donated to Sri Lanka by the Indian government, will see 250,000 frontline workers immunised against COVID-19, free of charge, presidential advisor Lalith Weeratunga told reporters yesterday. Covishield is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India in collaboration with the Oxford University and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

The vials were accepted by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Bandaranaike International Airport at 11.30am today and were transported by Sri Lanka’s armed forces to storage facilities run by the Ministry of Health (MoH), news.lk reported.

Deputy Director General of Health Services Dr Hemanth Herath told reporters today that the vaccines will be delivered to six main hospitals by evening and vaccination of staff at said hospitals will begin tomorrow.

Staff at the Colombo National Hospital, the Colombo South Teaching Hospital, the Colombo North Teaching Hospital, the Homagama Hospital, the Mulleriywa Hospital and the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) will be vaccinated within the next three-to-four days, he said. By next week, the jab will be sent to other hospitals as well, he added.

Meanwhile, Army chief and head of the national COVID-19 task force Gen Shavendra Silva told the privately owned Hiru TV today that in parallel to the vaccinations at the six hospitals in the Western Province, the Army Hospital in Narahenpita and the Panagoda Hospital will also begin their vaccinations tomorrow of frontline workers at the two hospitals.

“Over the next few days, with the increase in MoH hospitals that receive the vaccine, immunisation will be carried out in 14 other army hospitals around the island as well,” said Silva.

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“The vaccine will be given to personnel that are directly in contact with contagious people. No other person can get the vaccine as we have listed those who are eligible by name,” he added.

The army commander further said that the military will also facilitate the transportation of vaccines from the MoH to the various vaccination centres.

Meanwhile, main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP Dr Harsha de Silva also tweeted his appreciation to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Reported by Chanka Jayasinghe; edited by Himal Kotelawala (Colombo/Jan28/2021)

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