ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will receive eight million doses of a WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX facility, the first batch of which should arrive mid-February, State Minister Dr Sudarshini Fernandopulle said.
The State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control told EconomyNext that the government also plans to purchase 18 million doses, which will be administered free of charge.
She said the government is optimistic that Sri Lanka will have received a third of the COVAX doses by the end of the second week of this month.
Under the COVOX facility, Fernandopulle said, the age category of 60 years and above will be given priority, while the government is also looking to purchase vaccines to immunise the rest of the population between the ages of 30 and 60.
“We have already started our immunisation campaign with the vaccines donated by India, which we got earlier than anticipated. Vaccination was to start by mid-February, but we went ahead and started late January,” she said.
Other officials Sri Lanka will receive eight million doses of the AstraZeneca COVIDSHIELD vaccine through COVAX for four million people and that the vials will arrive in batches.
Sri Lanka is currently immunising frontline workers of the health sector and the military with the India-donated Covishield vaccine. Officials said Sri Lanka is hoping to vaccinate at least 20-percent of the population at first.
People over the age of 60 with non-communicable diseases and select individuals between 50 to 59 years of ages that are deemed important to the smooth functioning of the economy will be among 20% of Sri Lankans who will receive a COVID-19 vaccine under the global COVAX facility, Chief advisor to the president and head of the newly appointed presidential task force for Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 vaccination drive Lalith Weeratunga said in January.
The breakdown provided by the ministry of health is that 155,000 frontline healthcare workers, 127,500 military personnel, 3,159,800 patients of non-communicable diseases over the age of 60 and 1,178,154 people between 55 to 59 years of age as being eligible to receive the jab and amounting to 20 percent. (Colombo/Feb03/2020)