By Vyshnavy Velrajh
The Health Ministry expects the next batch of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines to be delivered to Sri Lanka by June.
The State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics, and COVID Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle told Colombo Gazette that the vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, had initially indicated that the next consignment of the vaccine doses will be delivered by the first week of April.
However, the institute has halted the delivery of vaccines in order to cater to the high demand in the local market in India.
The State Minister said as a result Sri Lanka has been forced to temporarily suspend the ongoing Covid vaccination programme.
She said the vaccination programme will recommence as soon as the serum Institute of India dispatches the next consignment of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.
Dr. Fernandopulle assured that Sri Lanka currently is in possession of the vaccine doses required to provide the second jab of the Covid vaccine.
She said the existing stock of vaccines have been kept aside to administer the second jab, which is scheduled to commence on 19th April.
Dr. Sudharshini Fernandopulle said frontline healthcare workers will initially receive the second jab.
The State Minister pointed out that people who received the vaccine from 31st March are due to receive the second jab by June.
She said Sri Lanka expects the next consignment from the Serum Institute of India to have arrived by then.
Dr. Fernadopulle further said Sri Lanka would have also received coronavirus vaccines through the COVAX facility and from other manufacturers during this period.
However, she said the vaccine doses cannot be mixed for the first and second jab ans so Sri Lanka will be required to wait until the Serum Institute of India dispatches the next batch of AstraZeneca vaccines.
Dr. Sudharshini Fernandopulle said the Government is waiting for the Indian Institute to convey the next available date for the delivery of the vaccines.
The Government temporarily suspended the coronavirus vaccination programme from Wednesday night (31).
Over 900,000 Sri Lankans have been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine since the commencement of the vaccination programme from 29th January, 2021. (Colombo Gazette)