ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will sign part two of the COVAX agreement with the World Health Organisation this week which will enable the country to obtain a limited quantity of the Covid 19 vaccine in the first quarter of this year.
The Ministry of Information said that the Cabinet of Ministers had approved the signing of the second part which has to be done by January 8.
COVAX is a global initiative that brings together governments and manufacturers to ensure low and middle-income countries can obtain the virus to inoculate some of its citizens.
Sri Lankan joined COVAX and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) last year.
The initiative has already raised UDS2bn and has put out a call to countries and philanthropies for another USD5bn.
Countries have to submit vaccine request applications under two phases to receive the vaccine facility and the first part which included information regarding the target group, storage capacity and technical information had to be submitted before December 7, the Cabinet announcement said.
As the WHO has repeatedly said there will only be a limited number of vaccines available in the first phase.
Dr Katherine O’Brian Director of the Department of Immunization at the WHO says “everyone cannot expect the vaccine to be given immediately as it arrives.”
She told an interviewer on the WHO website that the recipients will be prioritised with frontline Healthcare workers who most at risk.
Patients with underlying conditions and the elderly who are at risk of severe illness and death should be next in line, she said.
The WHO also says that the mere fact that the vaccine has been administered should not stop people from taking precautions to avoid infection.
There is no data available at present how long the effectiveness of the vaccine will last. Whether it will be forever or last only for a limited time us unknown O’Brian said. (Colombo, January 5, 2021)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana