An Echelon Media Company
Monday December 11th, 2023

Half a million vials of Oxford-AstraZeneca (Covishield) vaccine in Sri Lanka tomorrow

ECONOMYNEXT – Half a million vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and donated by the Indian government will arrive in Sri Lanka tomorrow, chief advisor to the president Lalith Weeratunga said.

“We will start vaccination the very next day (29) onwards. The plan is to vaccinate 250,000 frontline workers,” he said on a live broadcast on, the official government news portal.

Weeratunga, who heads a presidential task force appointed to oversee Sri Lanka’s vaccination drive, said there are some 150,000 health workers and 115,000 to 120,000 police and security forces personnel who have to be vaccinated as a priority.

The government recently approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by Serum, known as the Covishield vaccine, for use in the island. The consignment of 500,000 vials is scheduled to arrive at 11am tomorrow via an Air India flight, Weeratunga said.

“The Pfizer vaccine has many complications associated with it with regard to storage and transport. It has to be stored under -70 degrees Celsius. We have a limited number of coolers and there are many issues to consider such as transportation,” he said.

“The Covishield vaccine, on the other hand, can be stored in normal storage facilities under 8 -9 degrees Celsius and is therefore much easier to use in Sri Lanka,” he added.

The Vaccines will be transported to the Health Ministry’s central storage facilities by the armed forces where it will be distributed to Health Ministries Regional storage facilities.

Weeratunga further said that China will gift an additional 300,000 vials of its own COVID-19 vaccine to Sri Lanka upon a request by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He said that China has agreed to donate its Sinopharm vaccine but discussions are still ongoing on how to bring it to Sri Lanka.

A request has also been made to Russia for its Sputnik V vaccine.

“We believe we will get a reply for that in the near future, but both these vaccines still need the approval of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) of Sri Lanka,” said Weeratunga. (Colombo/Jan27/2021)

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Sri Lanka rupee opens at 327.00/50 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee opened at 327.00/50 to the US dollar on Monday, from 327.00/30 Friday, dealers said.

On the Colombo Stock Exchange, both indices opened up: The All Share Price Index 0.28 percent at 10,823, and the S&P SL20 0.35 percent at 3,113.85.

Bond yields were up.

A bond maturing on 01.08.2026 was quoted at 14.05/20 percent from 14.05/15 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.01.2027 was quoted at 14.05/20 percent from 14.10/25 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 was quoted at 14.20/50 percent from 14.20/35 percent.

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Sri Lanka promoting Buddhist tourism from Vietnam, ASEAN

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is planning to boost Buddhist tourism by linking temples in the country with those in East Asia, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said after to welcoming a delegation of monks from Vietnam.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, and Minister Sabry have initiated a temple-to-temple program where 100 Sri Lanka temples will be linked with counterparts in the Association of South East Asian Nations region.

“Tourism development will get a lot of growth with the temple-to-temple program,” Minister Ali Sabry said.

Along with the delegation of monks, five travel agents from Vietnam were also invited.

Under the first phase of the Temple-to-temple programs, several monks from Sri Lanka had received invitations from Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea and Vietnam the Foreign Ministry said.

The Temple-to-Temple diplomacy program will be extended to Singapore, Japan, Thailand and Cambodia during the second phrase of the program.

Sri Lanka is targeting 2.3 million tourists in 2023, after getting about 1.5 million this year. (Colombo/Dec10/2023)

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ADB $200mn loan for Sri Lanka economic stabilization efforts

ECONOMYNEXT – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US 200 million dollar concessional loan to Sri Lanka to help stabilize the country’s finance sector.

The Financial Sector Stability and Reforms Program comprises two subprograms of IS 200 million dollars each, according to a statement by the ADB.

“The program’s overarching development objective is fully aligned with the country’s strategy of maintaining finance sector stability, while ensuring that banks are well-positioned for eventual recovery,” ADB Country Director for Sri Lanka Takafumi Kadono was quoted as saying in the statement.

“The expected development outcome is a stable financial system providing access to affordable finance for businesses in various sectors of the economy.”

The ADB statement continues:

“Subprogram 1 targets short-term stabilization and crisis management measures that were implemented in 2023, while subprogram 2 is planned to be implemented in 2024 and focuses on structural reforms and long-term actions to restore growth in the banking sector.

The program will help strengthen the stability and governance of the country’s banking sector; improve the banking sector’s asset quality; and deepen sustainable and inclusive finance, particularly for women-led micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.

According to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest review, Sri Lanka’s economy is showing tentative signs of stabilization, although a full economic recovery is not yet assured.

The program is a follow-on assistance from ADB’s crisis response under the special policy-based loan that was approved for Sri Lanka in May 2023.

It is aligned with the fourth pillar of the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility provided to Sri Lanka to help the country regain financial stability.

It is also in line with the government’s reform agenda, including strengthening the operational independence of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) and its designation as the country’s macroprudential authority.

In designing this subprogram 1 loan, ADB has maintained close coordination and collaboration with the IMF to design targeted regulatory reforms for the banking sector—including the asset quality review—and with the World Bank on strengthening the deposit insurance scheme.

“The loan is accompanied by a $1 million grant from ADB’s Technical Assistance Special Fund to provide advisory, knowledge, and institutional capacity building for Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Finance and CBSL.”

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