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Wednesday September 27th, 2023

Sri Lanka expects to acquire Sinopharm, Pfizer, Moderna, Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines in July

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka expects to receive a range of vaccines against COVID-19 in July in varying numbers of doses, officials said, amid uncertainty about the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and doubt about the efficacy of certain vaccines against the highly transmissible Delta variant.

One million more doses of the Chinese Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine will arrive on July 06, State Ministry of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Secretary Dr Saman Ratnayake told Economy Next.

Ratnayake said Sri Lanka has also sent a schedule to acquire the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, with a consignment expected to arrive in due course, though a date has yet to be confirmed.

So far Sri Lanka has obtained 1,264,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine, 130,000 doses Sputnik V and 3.1 million doses of Sinopharm.

Ratnayake said a consignment of the Pfizer-BionTech jab is also expected to arrive on July 05, though the number of doses has yet to be finalised.

State Minister of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Channa Jayasumana told reporters on June 27 that Sri Lanka will receive Sinovac, the other China-manufactured COVID-19 vaccine, in the first two weeks of July. A batch of the US-manufactured Moderna jab is also expected to arrive in the same period, he said.

Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi told parliament on June 23 that the government has allocated 129.35 million US dollars for Sputnik V, 33.7 million US dollars Pfizer, 52.5 million US dollars for Covishield and 210 million US dollars for Sinopharm.

Meanwhile Sri Lankan pharmaceutical company Kelun Life Science said their manufacturing plant in the Kandy export processing zone will be dedicated for filling the Sinovac vaccine in Sri Lanka in the near future.

Kelun Life Science Quality Assurance Manager Gayathri Ariyasinghe told the privately owned Derana network that the solution of the vaccine will be imported from China in bulk and will be filled into vials in Sri Lanka.

“At the moment we are doing trial runs with the machine,” Ariyasinghe said.

Kelun Life Science Quality Control Manager Sajani Wijeratne said that upon receiving the solution in bulk by the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC), it will be sent to the Kelun plant and will go through a quality testing process before sent for filling.

“Sinovac is the vaccine that is being tested for most variants of the COVID-19 virus” Wijeratne claimed.

However, Reuters reported June 25 quoting a Chinese disease control centre official that antibodies triggered by the two Chinese COVID-19 vaccines including Sinovac are less effective against the Delta variant compared with other strains but the shots still offer protection.

Sri Lanka has detected five cases of the deadly strain in the community so far.

Wijeratne said in July a specialist team from the World Health Organisation (WHO) will be coming to Sri Lanka to inspect and audit the filling process to give the approval to continue filling.

“We expect to produce 6 million doses by August, 2021 and 7 million dose by September,” Wijeratne said.

“By bringing in bulk we have a great advantage economically. We will save around 30 percent of the cost we spend to bring in doses and also we won’t need to wait for a vaccine,” he added.

Sri Lanka currently uses three COVID-19 vaccines in the country’s COVID-19 immunisation drive.

So far the second dose of the Covishiled vaccine has been given for only 372,868 out of 925,242.

Minister Wanniarachchi said some 582,000 more are awaiting the second dose of the vaccine.

The first dose of Sinopharm meanwhile has been administered to 1,533,780 people so far, while 492,850 have received the second dose as of June 27.

The first dose of Sputnik V has been given to 114,795 so far, while 14,425 have received the second dose as of June 27.

So far Sri Lanka has spent 41.5 million rupees for COVID-19 vaccination, official data shows. (Colombo/June27/2021)

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Sri Lanka to have country pavilion at COP28 in bid for Climate Justice Forum

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Cabinet has approved the proposal by its Minister of Environment to maintain a country pavilion during the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28), to display “national level initiatives related to climate change”.

Sri Lankan delegates representing the country’s interests at COP28 in November are to present a proposal to establish a forum, with the aim of raising a “common voice” for the aspirations of developing countries in the global dialogue over climate change.

While attending COP28 to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change from 30 November to 12 December in Dubai, the Sri Lankan delegation is to present the proposal to the official body requesting permission for Sri Lanka to initiate a “Climate Justice Forum”.

The Cabinet decision said that the purpose of the forum is “raise a common voice regarding the aspirations of developing countries, together with countries that are more likely to be at risk due to climate change”. (Colombo/Sep27/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s sex workers face false charges: Women’s collective

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s sex workers have faced fundamental rights violations including unlawful detention and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, a representative of the Abhimani Women’s Collective said at a conference yesterday (26).

“Following their arrest, sex workers frequently experience the infringement of their fundamental rights, including the right to fair treatment, due process and protection from cruel and inhumane treatment,” said a report by the Abhimani Women’s Collective.

Soliciting on the street is currently illegal under section 7 1 (a) of the Vagrants Ordinance which criminalizes ‘any person in and about any public place soliciting any person for the commission of any act or of illicit sexual intercourse or indecency.

This provision along with section 2 of the Brothel’s Ordinance, which criminalizes the aiding and abetting of the management of a brothel, has been used to arrest sex workers in the country.

However, many sex workers claim that they have been presented before court on false charges of drug possession and have been subjected to harassment by both Police and customers.

“When inquiries are made over our arrest, the police say that we have been charged with drug possession,” Sakuni Mayadunna, a sex worker, said.

“Prostitution is not legal in Sri Lanka, so therefore, sex workers will face problems,” Chief of Police in charge of the Child and Women Abuse Prevention, Renuka Jayasundara, said.

“However, every citizen has fundamental rights in this country. We have not authorized the Police to carry out actions such as hitting detainees or not providing a female officer. If those actions happen, a complaint must be filed.”

Attorney-at-Law for the legal aid commission, Ganga Somarathna, said that the legal aid commission provides legal support for such victims whose income is below 45,000 rupees and also for women and children. (Colombo/Sep27/2023)

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Sri Lanka to introduce social security system: minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Labour minister has said that they are set to introduce a comprehensive national social security system, covering all workers.

“The system will address the weaknesses of the current system and provide much-needed support to workers and their families,” Manusha Nanayakkara, Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment said on X (formerly known as Twitter).
He did not specify the details.

Nanayakkara also spoke of the need for robust social security when he met with exporters last week to discuss labor law reforms, boosting female workforce participation and attracting FDI.

Sri Lanka plans to reform labour laws for an export-oriented economy.

The pandemic and the economic crisis highlighted the need to improve the coverage of social security.

Studies have shown that Sri Lanka’s women are kept out of formal employment by childcare, elderly care and housework, as day care and elderly homes are either too expensive or too few.

The government imposed a Social Security Contribution Levy to increase its revenue last year. (Colombo/Sep27/2023)

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