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Tuesday May 11th, 2021

Sri Lanka frontline workers, military to receive second COVID-19 jab starting tomorrow

FRONTLINE: A nurse in Sri Lanka getting ready to vaccinate fellow health workers.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will begin administering the second dose of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine to frontline health workers and security forces personnel tomorrow, State Minister Prof Channa Jayasumana said.

“The second dose will be given in the same order followed in the first round,” the State Minister of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals said at a press conference this afternoon.

So far, 155,000 frontline workers in the state health sector and 127,500 in the military have received the first jab.

A vaccination priority list was inexplicably discarded as, sometime in February, health authorities started immunising people over 30 years of age in select areas of the Western province. On March 10, authorities suspended immunising over 30s, announcing on March 13 that the priority list would be strictly followed.

“We have around 350,000 doses of Covieshield left in storage. We hope to acquire the remainder in the coming weeks,” said Jayasumana.

He was referring to the remaining million of the 1.5 million doses of Covishield that Sri Lanka’s State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) purchased from the Serum Institute of India (SII). Only 500,000 doses have arrived in Sri Lanka so far.

According to the Minister if Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi another 356,730 doses are in storage to be administered as the second dose and 568,000 more doses of Covishield vaccine is needed to completely vaccinate those who received their first shot.

State Minister Jayasumana said the first consignment of 200,000 doses of the Russia manufactured Sputnik V vaccine is expected to arrive in Sri Lanka next week.

Sri Lanka has already received 600,000 doses of Chinese-manufactured Sinopharm vaccine as a donation from the Chinese government, but is awaiting World Health Organisation (WHO) approval and approval from the country’s own National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA). The WHO is expected to decide on Sinopharm and Sinovac, another Chinese-made jab, this week.

“If the WHO includes it in their list of vaccines approved for emergency use, we hope to roll out the Sinopharm doses we have in Sri Lanka,” Jayasumana said.

According to SPC Chairman Dr Prasanna Gunasena, who spoke at an all-hands emergency press briefing last Friday (23), the timeline for the arrival of the Russian jab is: 200,000 doses by April, 400,000 by May, 800,000 by June and 1.2 million by July.

Gunasena said Sri Lanka has also signed agreements with the US-based Pfizer Inc. The multinational pharmaceutical giant has communicated to the SPC that between April to June, 35,000 doses will be delivered to Sri Lanka, followed by 105,000 from July to September and 4.8 million from October to December. (Colombo/Apr27/2021)

Related: Fears of a crisis loom in Sri Lanka as COVID-19 cases surge


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