Chinese Sinopharm coronavirus vaccines arrived in Sri Lanka today.
The vaccines arrived in a special flight at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Katunayake.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa received the consignment of 600,000 Sinopharm vaccines from the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong at the BIA.
Officials from the Sri Lankan Government and Chinese Embassy in Colombo were present at the occasion.
A stock of 600,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, gifted by China to Sri Lanka were handed over to Dr. Palitha Kohona, the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to China, yesterday.
The vaccines were handed over by Chen Song, Deputy Director General of the Asia Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, in the presence of Ms. Shi Shengyi, Deputy General Manager of China National Pharmaceutical Group Co. Ltd. (Sinopharm), and Chairman of the Board of China Sinopharm International Corporation.
Cabinet co-spokesman Dr. Ramesh Pathirana said the vaccine has not yet been approved to be administered on Sri Lankans.
Dr. Ramesh Pathirana said the Government is awaiting approval from the World Health Organization (WHO) to use the Sinopharm vaccine on Sri Lankans.
As a result, he said the vaccines will initially be administered only on Chinese nationals based in Sri Lanka.
Dr. Ramesh Pathirana said that the World Health Organization and the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) have not approved the use of the vaccine.
The Minister said that the vaccine has been evaluated by the NMRA based on the information it has received so far.
However, he said that there is a delay in evaluating the Phase 4 clinical trial results.
“Phase 4 clinical trial results are not available in the English language and that is why the WHO has not given its recommendation to use the vaccine universally. The moment we get the approval we can use it on Sri Lankans as well,” he said.
Dr. Ramesh Pathirana believes it is only a matter of time before clearance is obtained from the WHO. (Colombo Gazette)
Pictures courtesy @Jamila Husain