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Wednesday May 18th, 2022
Health

Sri Lanka state minister rules out fourth COVID-19 jab

Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine – Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s State Minister of Pharmaceutical Production Professor Channa Jayasumana has ruled out the need for a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, pointing to early though as yet unconfirmed indications that the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is coming to a halt with the Omicron variant.

“We don’t think we have to talk about a fourth dose just yet, so we are not buying vaccines for that purpose at the moment. However, if an unexpected situation does occur where a fourth dose is necessary, we have plans in place, and we are ready to carry them out,” said the Minister, speaking to local media on Monday (17).

Denmark recently became the first European country to offer a fourth dose, following Israel and Chile, who have started rollouts already despite divided opinion among the scientific community concerning the effectiveness of extra doses against Omicron and possible future variants.

There is also debate surrounding the notion that Omicron does indeed signal the end of COVID-19, with US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr Anthony Fauci saying at the World Economic Forum Davos Agenda Online Conference 2022 that it is “an open question as to whether or not Omicron is going to be the “live virus vaccination” that everyone is hoping for.”

The idea that Omicron will help to bring an end to the pandemic lies in its relatively less deadly nature and high transmissibility, international reports say. Scientists hope that a type of herd immunity can be developed among those who contracted the Omicron variant, and eventually among entire populations, which will bring COVID-19 closer to a more endemic level. However, with hospitals sometimes unable to cope with the sheer volume of patients, and the variability of the COVID virus, an end to the pandemic is still conjecture at best, other experts contend.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s health authorities have been encouraging citizens to get their second and third doses as soon as possible, with children aged 12 to 15 getting a single shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The government also approved the import of the first oral antiviral medication for COVID-19, Molnupiravir, in November 2021, although the decision has been pushed back since then in order to reanalyze the effectiveness of the pill.

With Omicron spreading around the island, public places, government schools and most businesses remain open, and public life goes on much the same as usual, health officials have said, warning of a possible spike in cases in the coming days.

Related: Long weekend trips could mean COVID-19 spike soon, Sri Lanka officials warn

(Colombo/Jan18/2022)

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