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Sri Lanka looking to purchase vaccine straight from AstraZeneca Plc

COVID-19 Vaccine

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is looking to purchase the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 directly from AstraZeneca Plc to meet the country’s vaccine demand, the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) said.

SPC General Manager Dinusha Dassanayaka told EconomyNext that a draft agreement has been requested from the British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company to this end.

“Due to global demands, we are unable to get enough supply for the domestic demand from just one supplier. We were exploring possibilities to acquire more vaccines even before the issues with the Serum Institute of India (SII) arose,” said Dassanayake.

On March 24, the Indian government imposed export restrictions on the SII-manufactured AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine in order to meet growing domestic demand in India due to a recent rise in cases.

“We have now requested the required documents from AstraZeneca UK to carry the process forward,” Dassanayaka said.

The SPC had previously made a purchase order for 10 million doses of the Covishield vaccine from the Serum Institute. However, according to Dassanayake, SII informed SPC that the delivery would be delayed due to a fire that erupted at an SII facility.

“When we enquired about the initial requirement of 10 million, we were informed that the delivery schedule will be confirmed by April for the complete purchase order. But with the new situation we don’t know which direction it will take,” he said.

The SPC general manager further said that, in the wake of the Indian government’s decision, SII had informed the SPC that the company is compelled to follow the directive.

However, State Minister Channa Jayasumana told reporters yesterday that Sri Lanka is looking for a diplomatic intervention with the Indian government to bring down the vaccine.

“Discussions are ongoing with the Indian government and we will be able to bring in another batch of 500,000 of Covishield to the country as was initially confirmed by the SII,” Jayasumana said.





Meanwhile, discussions are also under way with Russian authorities about purchasing the Sputnik V vaccine, with a draft agreement already sent.

The Cabinet of Ministers gave approved a proposal this week to purchase seven million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine for 69.65 million US dollars.

Dassnayaka further said the SPC is is also looking to import the Johnson & Johnson vaccine manufactured in the US if the National Medical Regulatory Authority (NMRA) approves it for emergency use in Sri Lanka.

“No final decision has been reached or price negotiation has been done thus far. We will proceed if we get NMRA approval,” he said. (Colombo/Mar26/2021)

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