ECONOMYNEXT –Sri Lanka is to finalise a decision on a COVID-19 booster dose this week, the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) said.
With the vaccination of people over the age of 30 almost complete, and vaccination of those aged 20 to 29 and children with congenital disorders ongoing, the government is considering a booster shot as per the recommendations of a panel of experts, an SPC official told EcomyNext.
“The decision has yet to be finalised. It is to be discussed at this week’s COVID-19 task force meeting,” the official said on Monday (04).
Health experts in Sri Lanka have recommended administering Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca as the third dose for people over 60 years of age.
Citing research conducted in the Middle East, a Sri Lanka Medical Association statement said the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine is shown to be less effective for the over-60 demographic.
The medical body has made a set of recommendations for Sri Lanka’s vaccine rollout upon analysing international data.
The SLMA has recommended that a third dose be administered to those above 60 years of age who had received the Sinopharm jab one month after their second dose. The third dose can be AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna.
With recommendation coming in, SPC chairman Prasanna Gunasena said Sri Lanka placed an order for 14 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 jab, which are expected to receive in batches starting end October.
According to the SPC, the earlier order of five million doses of Pfizer will be completed by the end of October.
“We received 304,200 doses on Monday (4), and two consignments of the same quantity are expected on October 11 and October 18,” the official said.
“And on October 25, a batch of 305,370 is scheduled to arrive, and with that the initial order placed by the SPC will completed.”
Apart from the purchased consignment, Sri Lanka also received 808,650 doses of the Pfizer vaccine through the COVAX facility as a part of a US initiative to donate 1.1 billion vaccines to countries in need.
The US has so far given 2.4 million free vaccines to Sri Lanka including 1.5 million Moderna doses.
Sri Lanka health officials have vaccinated 14.58 million with the first dose of one of the five vaccines administered in the country while 11.85 million have been fully vaccinated with both first and second doses.
Meanwhile, the head of COVID-19 task force Army Commander Gen Shavendra Silva said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will also issue instructions regarding vaccinating the 15-19 age group this week.
Of the total population in the 20-29 age group Sri Lanka has vaccinated 54.9 percent with the first dose while 12.9 percent has been vaccinated with both first and second doses.
“There was some vaccine hesitancy due to misinformation circulating in social media, but now more young people are coming forward than before to get the jab. We have vaccinated more than 50 percent of the total with the first dose, but since it is not yet the time to give the second dose for most of them only around 12 percent have been fully vaccinated,” Deputy Director of Health Services Dr Hemantha herath told reporters on Monday. (Colombo/Oct04/2021)