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Sri Lanka likely to vaccinate general public with Sinopharm vaccine: official

Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine – Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka expects to receive 600,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from the Chinese government this Wednesday (31) that may be used to vaccinate the general public against COVID-19, an official said.

“We will look for the most eligible community to receive the jab and will take necessary steps to vaccinate them,” Chief Epidemiologist Dr Sudath Smaraweera told EconomyNext.

He noted, however, that approval from Sri Lanka’s National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) for emergency use of the vaccine will need to be obtained, in addition to a number of other processes that must be completed, prior to administering it.

Manufactured by the Beijing-based biopharmaceutical company Sinovac, the Chinese vaccine has yet to receive the approval of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In an earlier press meeting, Cabinet Co- Spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the vaccine will only be used to inoculate the Chinese workers in Sri Lanka and not Sri Lankan citizens.

“If the vaccine is used on Sri Lankan,s we need clearance from the WHO and from the other organisations including our regulatory authority,” Rambukwella said.

Meanwhile, Dr Samaraweera said the second dose of the Indian-manufactured Covishield vaccine is scheduled to be administered starting April 19. Enough vaccines are available in stores for this purpose, he said.

Samaraweera further said in the event a person who received their first jab is unable to get the second shot by the end of 12 weeks, they must get it as soon as possible within in the days that follow in order for the vaccine to fully immunise the body. (Colombo/Mar29/2021)

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