ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will receive the Russian Sputnik V vaccine this month, with a decision to extend the current purchase order of seven million doses to 13 million doses pending cabinet approval, an official said.
State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) General Manager Dinusha Dassanayake told EconomyNext that Russian authorities have informed the SPC that the first consignment of doses will be dispatched on April 12.
On March 04, Sri Lanka approved the Russian manufactured jab for emergency use and a cabinet proposal was approved on March 24 to purchase the seven million doses for USD 69.95.
The Sputnik V vaccine is produced by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, a Russian medical-research institute which operates under the purview of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.
The jab is proven to have 95 percent efficacy against COVIID-19. It needs to be stored at temperatures between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius (a standard fridge is roughly 3 to 5 degrees Celsius) and is to be administered in two doses, with the second dose required to be given 21 days after receiving the first.
The Russian authorities have communicated to Sri Lanka its ability to provide up to 13 million doses of the vaccine, Dassanayake said.
“Since initial approval was given to purchase only seven million, we have ordered only that many at the moment,” he said, adding that discussions are under way to increase the figure to 13 million though a final decision has yet to be made.
Dassanayaka further said no confirmation from the Serum Institute in India has been communicated yet on the pending consignments of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine purchased by the Sri Lankan government from the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Dassanaya had previously said one million doses of Covishield are still due from the SII. However with the export restrictions of the Indian government, he said, there has been a delay in the consignments being delivered to Sri Lanka.
Chief Epidemiologist Dr Sudath Smaraweera said last week that Sri Lanka’s vaccine rollout has been put on hold in order to store and reserve the remaining Covishield doses to be administered as the second dose of the vaccine, starting April 19.
“But we should be able to revive the rollout by the end of the month or by May with the vaccines we purchase and the vaccines we receive from the COVAX facility,” Samaraweera said.
Meanwhile, State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control Dr Sudarshani Fernandopulle told parliament today the rollout of the second dose for those who received their first dose from January 29 onward will commence from April 29 to June 30.
Sri Lanka has immunised 923,954 people against COVID-19 so far with a stock of 1,264,000 Covishield vaccines that the health services received as a donation from India, through the COVAX facility and as a purchase from SII.
“We have around 300,000 doses left to administer as the second dose starting April 19,” Fernadopulle said in the parliament today.
“In the mean time we expect to receive consignments from the Serum Institute and COVAX as well,” she added.
Authorities started vaccinating Chinese nationals in the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) area today with the 600,000 doses of the Chinese manufactured Sinopharm vaccine that were donated to Sri Lanka by the Chinese government.
CMC public health department official Dr Dinuka Guruge told reporters the Sinopharm rollout will continue for three days vaccinating 3,500 to 4,000 Chinese nationals.
“Today we intend to vaccinate 1,000 Chinese people,” Guruge told reporters.
Meanwhile, Dr Smaraweera said that recent World Health Organisation (WH) reports received by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health indicate a 17.7 percent drop in COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka.
All other countries in the South East Asian region show an increase in cases while Sri Lanka’s daily cases seem to be on the decline, he said.
Sri Lanka reported 141 new COVID-19 cases within a 24-hour period that ended at 0600 am today.
Offiical reports show that out of the new cases, 19 are returnees from abroad, while 122 are locally identified patients, a majority of whom were detected in the Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara districts. Colombo/Apr05/2021)