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Sri Lanka to get free Covid vaccines from India and China

ECONOMYNEXT – India’s gift of over 500,000 doses of Oxford AstraZeneca’s COVISHIELD vaccine to Sri Lanka, will arrive in the island in two days and a donation of a further 300,000 doses of the Chinese vaccine Sinopharm will likely follow shortly, officials said.

Yesterday Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa informed the Cabinet of Ministers that the first consignment from India is scheduled to arrive in Sri Lanka by Thursday.

Vaccinations will begin on Friday.

“Under the cooperation of the two countries in face of the Covid 19 epidemic over the past year, the government of India has decided to grant over 500,000 vaccines manufactured in India to Sri Lanka,” the statement from the Cabinet office said.

Acting Deputy Director-General of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath said two doses of vaccine will be given to each person within a four-week time period.

The first recipients of the vaccine will be 250,000 personnel in the health service sector and members of the Armed Forces and Police who are deployed in the quarantine and intermediate Covid treatment facilities, he added.

State Minister for Production, supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Channa Jayasumana yesterday told reporters the Sinopharm vaccine has been listed under Covid 19 vaccines to get the approval of the National Medicine Regulatory Authority (NMRA).

NMRA gave permission to use the Oxford AstraZeneca COVISHIELD vaccine in Sri Lanka in an Emergency last Friday.

“This is the first time permission was given to a vaccine that was made for Covid 19 to use in Sri Lanka” State Minister Jayasumana said.

Herath added that the vaccination will start the day after the consignment arrives in Sri Lanka.

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“We have planned all the steps on how to distribute the vaccine after it arrives in Sri Lanka. We believe we will be able to start the vaccination from the very next day from its arrival.”

Herath said the vaccine will be sent to the central storage facility in Ministry of Health before distributing to 26 regional health facilities.

“From there according to the orders it will be distributed to vaccination facilities all around the country and guidelines regarding the vaccination will be given to all the relevant parties in the next few days.” (Colombo January 26, 2021)

Reported by Chanka Jayasinghe and Edited by Arjuna Ranawana

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