Colombo, May 20 (Daily Mirror) – The government has shot down a request by the private sector to pay for the importation of Astrazeneca vaccines for the corporate world as several are desperately awaiting the second jab, the Daily Mirror learns.
An effort was underway by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in recent days to gather information on how many doses were required by the private sector for its employees who had received the first dose of the Covishield Astrazeneca vaccine.
An email issued by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce was widely circulated to all its member chambers this week, to submit a list of how many of its employees require the Astrazeneca dose for the second jab.
The email said the Chamber was made aware that there was a possibility to secure a stock of Astrazeneca vaccines at Rs.5,000 per dose and those members interested in purchasing the second dose for their staff who had already been administered the first dose, were requested to inform their requirement immediately.
Sources from the Chamber told Daily Mirror they received a wide response from companies willing to purchase the Astrazeneca vaccines for its employees and the State Pharmaceutical Corporation had been approached by the private sector entities who were willing to make a payment for the urgent stocks.
Since the start of the pandemic, the private sector was in continuous discussions with the SPC to seek permission to import the vaccines where the public sector employees would also be able to receive the doses through stocks imported by the private sector.
However, the Daily Mirror learns that the latest request by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce was turned down by the government once again yesterday, they had stated they were not in a position to acquire a separate stock of Astrazeneca for the private sector and that the private sector would be included in the national vaccination programme, where jabs would be administered free of charge.
The country is facing a severe shortage of Astrazeneca doses with 600,000 people awaiting the second dose. Out of this 100,000 people are from Colombo.
While the front line workers and the front line service providers are receiving the second doses with the leftover 300,000 Astrazeneca vaccines in stock, the Colombo Municipal Council yesterday said the vaccines were not available for members of the general public but speculation was rife that people with ‘connections’ were administered the vaccines. Parliamentarians were also being administered the second dose.