Sri Lanka to obtain Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer vaccines next month

By Ashanthi Warunasuriya

Sri Lanka is to obtain the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines next month, the Government said today.

State Minister of Primary Health Services, Pandemics and COVID Prevention, Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle said that the Oxford-AstraZeneca is to be obtained through India and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine through the World Health Organisation (WHO).

She said that Sri Lanka has been in talks with India to obtain the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Sri Lanka had formally requested Indian assistance to obtain the Covid vaccine recently.

The request was conveyed to Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar during his meetings in Colombo last week.

The WHO has meanwhile offered a Covid vaccine to cover 20 percent of Sri Lanka’s population under the COVAX programme.

Fernandopulle said the WHO is most likely to give Sri Lanka the Pfizer vaccine.

She said that steps are being taken to prepare the cold storage for the vaccines.

The Health Ministry has already decided on a priority list of recipients of the coronavirus vaccine which consists of vulnerable groups.

Among the recipients identified are people above 60 years of age, frontline workers and others.

Consultant Epidemiologist at the Health Ministry Dr. Deepa Gamage had said that people above the age of 60, people suffering from serious illnesses, doctors and medical staff and other frontline workers often dealing with coronavirus patients and staff employed at institutions crucial to the economy of the country like the airport have been identified as those who will receive the vaccine in Sri Lanka.

Dr. Deepa Gamage said that the vaccine for 20 percent of the population will be received in two stages.

She said that the first set of recipients will depend on the initial quantity of the Covid vaccine which Sri Lanka will receive. (Colombo Gazette)