ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka expects to acquire 14 million doses of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, 13 million doses of Sputnik V, and five million of Pfizer-BionTech by the end of the year, officials said.
In addition to these, funds have been set aside to purchase one million doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, co-cabinet spokesman Minister Ramesh Pathirana said, some 600,000 of which will be administered to those anxiously awaiting their second jab.
The Daily Mirror reported on May 25 that the government, in desperation, is ready to acquire the AstraZeneca vaccine at any price.
Funds have also been allocated for the purchase of the aforementioned 14 million doses of Sinopharm at USD 15 per dose, Pathirana told reporters at the weekly cabinet press briefing on May 25.
Sri Lanka expects to vaccinate 60 to 70 percent of the population by the end of the year, Minister Pathirana said.
Vaccine imports will be fast-tracked as soon as the manufacturers make them available, he added.
Sri Lanka also expects a separate delivery of 500,000 doses of Sinopharm within the day today (25), with a further three million offered by the manufacturer to be delivered at some point in June. Pathirana said the delivery date will be announced over the next few days.
“We plan to acquire a large number of vaccines in June and administer them in the Western province and other parts of the country where there have been a lot cases,” he said.
Army Commander Gen Shavendra Silva told the privately owned Ada Derana network on May 24 that 13 million doses of the Russia-made Sputnik V vaccine and five million doses of Pfizer-BionTech will arrive in Sri Lanka by December.
Sri Lanka started administering the first 600,000 doses of Sinopharm donated by the Chinese government on May 07. So far 482,508 have received the first dose. According to official health ministry guidelines, the second dose should be administrated four weeks after the first.
According to Silva, the 500,000 doses of Sinopharm arriving in Sri Lanka today (25) will likely be used as the second jab for those who have already received the first shot, but if the other three million doses arrive next week or so as expected, the May 25 batch of 500,000 will be administered as the first dose to more unvaccinated people.
The three million doses, which Silva expects to arrive in June, will be rolled out starting from the Kurunegala and Ratnapura districts followed by the Galle, Matara and Jaffna districts. This is due to an increase in cases in these districts, he said. However, prior to rolling out the Chinese jab in these districts, a considerable number of doses will be allocated for the Western province where daily cases remain high.
Russia has also confirmed a batch of 50,000 doses of Sputnik V by next week and another 900,000 at some point in June, Silva said.
A consignment of 15,000 doses of the Russian vaccine arrived in Sri Lanka in late April. Rollout began on April 30 and so far 14,941 people have received their first dose.
“We got 15,000 doses for a trial run and some of the next 50,000 doses will be used for the second dose. The rest will be rolled out starting in the Kandy district,” said the army chief.
“Altogether, by December, we expect 14 million doses of Sinopharm, 13 million doses of Sputnik V and five million doses of Pfizer. Agreements have already been signed for all of these,” he said.
Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi told parliament on May 04 that Sri Lanka hopes to vaccinate 63 percent of the population.
“With initial plans to vaccine everyone over 30, we were looking to acquire 29 million doses. With all these vaccines now coming to Sri Lanka, we will have an excess of four million doses in the future,” said Silva. (Colombo/May25/2021)