Colombo, May 16 (Xinhua/newsin.asia/Economynext): People in Colombo and other parts of Sri Lanka are queuing up to get jabs of China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine.
As on May 16, Sri Lanka had 140,000 Covid positive cases and 941 had died.
Currently, Sri Lanka has a stock of close to 600,000 Sinopharm doses which were given free by China ahead of the World Health Organization’s approval.
Till Saturday, 348.619 first doses and 2435 second doses of Sinopharm had been administered. Only Chinese nationals had been given the second dose of that vaccine.
Sri Lanka is expecting three million Sinopharm doses. “Negotiations held with the Chinese authorities to obtain three million doses of Sinopharm vaccine have been successful and the government has made plans to commence the vaccination programmes in other provinces too as soon as the vaccines are received,” the President’s office said.
Till May 15, 350, 000 security forces personnel and frontline health workers had been given the second dose of the India-made COVISHIELD vaccine from India. Since India has expressed its inability to continue supply, the Sri Lankan government is exploring the possibility of importing its equivalent from other countries. According to official sources, a reply from these countries is expected in the next couple days.
In the meanwhile, the 15,000 doses of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V had arrived and they are being administered in the densely populated Western Province. Another 85,000 doses are expected soon, the government said.
On May 8, Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry began administering the Sinopharm vaccine to local nationals, soon after the World Health Organization (WHO) approved it for emergency use worldwide.
The vaccines were administered at the Panadura Health Office in Kalutara District, in the outskirts of capital Colombo, an area which has reported a rising number of COVID-19 patients in recent days.
Speaking at the launch of the vaccination drive, State Minister of Production, Supply, and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Channa Jayasumana thanked the Chinese government for sending the Sinopharm vaccines to Sri Lanka and said this would add to the efforts of the Sri Lankan government to vaccinate at least 70 percent of its population against the COVID-19 virus by the end of the year.
“Today is a very special day for the Panadura MoH office. We want to thank the Chinese government as well as the WHO for approving the Sinopharm under emergency use. Today we began administering the Sinopharm in the Panadura area and want to thank President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for approving to start this program from the Kalutara district,” Jayasumana said.
State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control Sudharshani Fernandopulle, also said at the launch of the vaccination drive that with the WHO and the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) approving the Sinopharm vaccine under emergency use in Sri Lanka, authorities will now look to get more vaccines from China to vaccinate the local population.
“Today we began administering the Sinopharm vaccine in the Panadura Health office for locals above the age of 30 years and below the age of 60 years. From tomorrow we will also identify the areas which have reported the highest number of COVID-19 patients in recent days and will begin to administer the Sinopharm vaccines in those areas as well,” Fernandopulle said.
She said some of the areas worst affected by the COVID-19 virus were Colombo, Kalutara, Gampaha, Kurunegala, Kandy, and Matale, and authorities were making arrangements to vaccinate the people in these areas as soon as possible.
“The best way to protect yourself from the COVID-19 virus is to vaccinate the people and this government led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is aiming to vaccinate the population in Sri Lanka as soon as possible,” Fernandopulle said.
“The President is confident that Sri Lanka will be able to successfully manage the current situation through vaccination, similar to the successful results achieved in the United States, the United Kingdom and a number of European countries through vaccination,” a statement from his office said.