UN, EU hail arrival of more vaccines to Sri Lanka

The United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) today hailed the arrival of more vaccines to fight the coronavirus in Sri Lanka.

Commenting on the delivery of the first batch of vaccines from COVAX, the Ambassador of the European Union in Sri Lanka, Denis Chaibi, said that it was great news for the
population of Sri Lanka.

“Ensuring access to safe and efficient vaccines for all, regardless of where you come from, is key to fight this global pandemic. COVAX is best placed to help us achieve this objective. COVID-19 knows no boundaries, and the world will only be safe when everyone is safe,” he said.

The Ambassador said that the European Union, jointly with its Member States and the European Investment Bank EIB under “Team Europe”, has invested massively – more than 2.2 billion EUR – to support this global solidarity mechanism.

He said this comes in addition to the 5 billion LKR the EU specifically allocated to Sri Lanka to help with addressing the health and socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

The UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, noted the importance of solidarity and partnership in defeating the virus.

“Solidarity will save lives, protect people and help defeat this devastating virus. By coming together, the global community has made a promise to ensure there is no inequality in the distribution of the vaccine. COVAX ensures the most vulnerable receive the vaccine, and collectively we must strive to deliver on the promise of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda of leaving no one behind,” she said.

The arrival of the initial batch is the result of an extensive planning process over the past several months.

COVAX partners have been supporting the Government of Sri Lanka in COVID-19 vaccination readiness activities.

WHO Representative to Sri Lanka, Dr Razia Pendse, noted that the vaccines are a major breakthrough and a critical addition to the tool kit to fight COVID-19.

“They are however, not the silver bullet. Vaccination combined with public health and social
measures will help us end the pandemic. It is important that as vaccination is rolled out, we continue to stay the course with each one of us committing to practicing known preventive measures to reduce the spread of the virus; such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, washing our hands with soap, and avoiding crowded and enclosed spaces even when we have received the vaccine. Now is the time to be more vigilant and not let our guard down.”

The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility to arrive in Sri Lanka is the Astra Zeneca/Oxford vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII).

This is part of COVAX’s commitment to provide vaccine doses to cover 20% of Sri Lanka’s population. (Colombo Gazette)

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