ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is planning to order 18 million vaccines as part of efforts to protect up to 60 percent of the population as India said the national regulator’s independence should be respected.
Sri Lanka’s National Medical Regulatory Authority has already approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, branded COVISHIELD produced in India. India had given 500,000 free doses, which would be used to vaccinate at least 250,000 health workers, police and military personnel.
“Probably because of the success of this initiative, I am given to understand that Sri Lanka is placing large scale orders for more vaccines from India,” Vinod K Jacob, Indian Deputy High Commissioner to Sri Lanka said at a business forum in Colombo.
“Having seen at closed quarters, the benefits of jointly fighting COVID-19 related challenges, I am confident that both countries can deepen our cooperation in this field.”
“Sri Lanka One of the lessons learned is that while dealing with public health matters as important as vaccines, it is imperative to respect the national regulator’s freedom and competence,”
“I would like to commend the professionalism of Sri Lankan authorities who cut no corners and yet provided necessary approvals in just about a week to COVISHIELD.”
Sri Lanka is planning to order 18 million vaccine doses, Deputy Director General of Health Service Hemanthe Perera told reporters earlier this week.
The stock would be enough to vaccinate 9 million out of a population of 20 million.
Under the WHO’s Covax initiative Sri Lanka would get enough vaccines for about 20 percent of the population, he said.
Sri Lanka has made progress in analyzing a vaccine produced by Pfizer, which is also approved by the World Health Organization an officials said. The Pfizer vaccine is said to be more expensive (about 30 dollars against 4 dollars for the AstraZeneca according to reports).
Pfizer also needs low temperatures (about -70 degrees), which makes is difficult to store and transport while maintaining efficacy.
More data has been requested from China for its Sinopharm vaccine and Russia on its Sputnik vaccine.
Chinese vaccines heve not been approved by many authorities due to lack of peer reviewed third phase study data.
A second phase study of Sinovac, one of the vaccines produced by China had been published in Lancet, a British medical journal.
Cambodia, which has close links with China, started using Sinopharm this week.
Sinopharm has claimed that its vaccine is 79 percent effective. However different countries have reported different efficacy levels. (China’s COVID-19 shot has four wildly different efficacy rates)
UAE which had used the vaccine had said it is 86 percent effective based on a study in the country.
Some Latin American countries which also used it have reported different rates of effectiveness ranging from 50 percent upwards.