By Chanka Jayasinghe/ ECONOMYNEXT
Colombo, March 9: The Serum Institute of India (SII) will deliver one million doses of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine this month and the next as promised, the State Pharmaceutical Corporation said.
The SII has confirmed to the SPC its commitment to delivering the doses as scheduled, SPC General Manager Dinusha Dassanayake told EconomyNext today. This is in contrast to media reports yesterday that the remaining one million of a 1.5 million consignment ordered by Sri Lanka may not be delivered by mid-March or April as originally expected.
“We confirmed with the Serum Institute in India about the purchases we made earlier this year. As scheduled, two consignments of 500,000 batches of Oxford COVISHIELD vaccine will arrive in Sri Lanka in March and April,” he said.
Sri Lanka’s The Sunday Times reported yesterday that SII had informed the SPC in writing that one of their plants has been hit by a fire on January 21.
The Serum Institute letter signed by CEO Adar C. Poonawalla and sent to SPC Chairman Dr Prasanna Gunasena reads: “To support the global effort fighting the pandemic, SII (Serum Institute of India) had recently signed additional agreements with governments outside of the scope of its original sub-licence agreement with AstraZeneca.”
“To meet these additional supply commitments, we commenced the expansion of our manufacturing facilities. Regrettably, a fire at one of our buildings has caused obstacles to the expansion of our monthly manufacturing output.”
However, Dassanayaka said that following discussions with the Serum Institute, one million doses of the vaccine will definitely arrive in Sri Lanka as planned, as per the purchase agreement between the SPC and the SII.
According to official figures, Sri Lanka vaccinated 30,041 yesterday bringing the island’s total vaccinations against COVID-19 to 729,562.
Deputy Director-General of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath said with the new consignment that arrived in Sri Lanka yesterday through the COVAX facility, health officials target to continue the ongoing vaccination drive in Colombo, Gampaha, and selected areas in Kalutara.