ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will receive one million doses of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine on June 06 with rollout of the second dose set to begin June 08, Army Commander Gen Shavendra Silva said.
This will be the first purchased consignment of the Chinese vaccine to arrive in the island, Silva told reporters on May 29.
Half a million doses of Sinopharm arrived on May 26, 125,000 of which were administered to residents in the Kurunegala, Galle and Matara districts in what was the first rolling out of a COVID-19 vaccine outside the Western province.
According to the army chief, the remaining 375,000 doses which were reserved to be administered as the second jab will now be distributed across more districts following the confirmation of the June 06 consignment.
As instructed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, he said, 100,000 doses will be sent to the Colombo district, 75,000 to Gampaha, 50,000 each to Kurunegala, Ratnapura and Jaffna, and 25,000 to Matara. Silva did not clarify how the remaining 25,000 doses will be used.
Sri Lanka is purchasing Sinopharm at USD 15 per dose.
Health Services Director General Dr Asela Gunawardena told reporters on May 29 that prices were decided after discussions with the manufacturer.
Gunawardena was responding to claims by the main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) that Sri Lanka has paid USD 5 more than Bangladesh had for each dose.
Indian newspaper Mint reported quoting Bangladesh’s Finance Minister A H M Mustafa Kamal that Dhaka was indeed purchasing the vaccine at USD 10 per dose, contrary to claims by Sri Lankan officials.
Dr Gunawardena, however, insisted that Sri Lanka was paying the best possible price.
“The price can range from 18-40 dollars due to various reasons,” he said.
Sri Lanka has administered the second dose of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine for 345,789 out of a total 925,242 who had received their first shot.
The first dose of Sinopharm has been given to 666,612 so far while the first dose of the Sputnik V vaccine has been given to 16,664.
According to Gen Silva, from June 08 onwards first dose receivers of Sinopharm will get their second shot at the same vaccination centre they received the first dose. (Colombo/May31/2021)