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Sri Lanka has enough Covishield till May, half a million more due from Serum: state minister

COVID-19 Vaccine

ECONOMYNEXT – India’s decision to temporarily hold all exports of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine will not immediately affect Sri Lanka as the island has enough doses till the end of May, State Minister Prof Channa Jayasumana said. A further 500,000 doses owed to Sri Lanka are expected to arrive in the near future, he added.

The State Minister of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals told Derana TV this morning that, starting April 11, Sri Lanka’s Covishield stocks will be administered as the second dose for frontline workers that received their first jab in late January and early February.

Increased domestic demand in India for the vaccine due to rising cases in India has prompted the Indian government to halt all exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine until the end of April, international media reported this morning.

The Serum Institute of India (SII) which manufactures the AstraZeneca vaccine under the brand ‘Covishield’ has agreed to produce one billion doses for the COVAX facility to be distributed among low and middle income countries. According to reports, today’s export restriction will affect some 190 countries under COVAX.

State Minister Jayasumana said Sri Lanka started to store enough doses to last till May ever since the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) was notified of a delay in production due to a fire that was said to have erupted at an SII facility.

Of the 1,264,000 doses received so far, he said, some 400,000 are currently n storage to be rolled out in April.

“Unofficial sources from SII had informed us that they will send a batch of 500,000 doses in the near future as well,” said Jayasumana.

SPC General Manager Dinusha Dassanayaka said they have reached out to the SII about the issue and is waiting for an official reply from the manufacturer.

“SII hasn’t officially communicated to us about the restriction on exports and how it will affect the consignments scheduled to arrive this month and in April,” Dassanayaka told EconomyNext.

“We still expect our consignment to arrive as scheduled,” he added.

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Meanwhile, according to Dassanayake, a draft of the agreement to purchase seven million doses of the Russian-manufactured Sputnik V vaccine at USD 9.95 per vial has been sent off to Russian authorities

“We sent the draft of the agreement and the delivery schedules yesterday to be confirmed by Russian authorities and we expect to finalise everything within the next month or so,” he said.

Sri Lanka had immunised 856,327 by yesterday with the Covishield vaccine, official data showed. (Colombo/Mar24/2021)

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