ECONOMYNEXT – In under a year, Sri Lanka has secured the required number of COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses in full, State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) Chairman Dr Prasanna Gunasena said.
According to Gunasena, total vaccine doses acquired by the SPC are as follows:
- Sinopharm: 26,000,000
- Pfizer-BioNTech: 18,000,000
- AstraZeneca: 2,865,424
- Moderna: 1,500,000
- Sputnik V: 195,000
Of these, 6.8 million doses were donations from the governments of China , Japan, the United States and India as well as the World Health Organisation through the COVAX facility.
Gunasena said the cost per jab ranged from 5 to 7.5 US dollars.
“All vaccines with the exception of Sputnik V were 100 percent WHO-approved and were purchased directly from the manufacturing plants guaranteeing the highest quality,” Gunasena said in a statement on Monday (10).
He said, to date, none of the COVID-19 vaccines have caused any unusual complications in the country or in the world.
“This is confirmed by the WHO and our Epidemiology Unit,” he said.
There have been rare instances of long term side effects, however, according to various international reports.
A majority of the vaccines imported by Sri Lanka were the Chinese Sinopharm and the US-made Pfizer-BioNTech. The Pfzier jabs were paid for with a World Bank loan, while funds from the Asian Development Bank paid for the Sinopharm batches.
“We entered into anti-corruption and anti-bribery agreements with these two banks and approved these funds after they were satisfied that they had thoroughly examined our procurement process and completed an audit of all our operations,” Gunasena said.
“It was confirmed that the entire process of purchasing these vaccines was carried out in a transparent manner in accordance with international criteria,” he added.
Gunasena claimed the country’s vaccine rollout is among the global top 10.
He also commented on vaccine hesitancy in Sri Lanka.
“Rumors that should not be entertained, such as sore hands, itching, swollen lymph nodes, and a blood clot in someone’s brain, are at the root of this problem. It is a big question why people in our country believe so many rumors. When people died in August and September, those who went to get the vaccine in the queue hide today” he said.
“This is an unfortunate and dangerous situation. There is a serious responsibility to motivate the public to get the booster. It must also be given to all health professionals.”
“Do not miss this golden opportunity. Let the coming Sinhala and Tamil New Year (in April) be a joyous occasion and enjoy 2022.”
The task entrusted to the SPC has been completed by bringing the required quantity of high quality injections, said Gunasena. To this end, all SPC employees have worked tirelessly and round the clock over the past year, without taking any leave during the epidemic, even foregoing weekends, he said.
“For this they deserve to be properly honoured,” Gunasena said.
Health officials have so far vaccinated 16 million with the first dose while 13.9 million have received the second dose. The booster dose has been given to 4.3 million people so far. (Colombo/Jan10/2022)