A stock of 728,460 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Sri Lanka this evening.
The vaccines arrived in Sri Lanka from Japan on a special Sri Lankan Airlines flight.
The AstraZeneca vaccines, manufactured in Japan, were donated to Sri Lanka through the COVAX facility of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Another stock of AstraZeneca vaccines are scheduled to arrive in Sri Lanka next Saturday.
The vaccines will be first used to administer the second dose on those who got the AstraZeneca vaccine as the first dose in February-March this year.
The Government said that the second dose will be administered tomorrow (Sunday) at the Viharamahadevi Park and on Monday at the Viharamahadevi Park and Diyatha Uyana.
Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi emphasized the key role the COVAX facility and donors play in Sri Lanka’s fight against COVID-19.
“The arrival of this batch of vaccines is the result of continuous advocacy over the past several months by the Government of Sri Lanka, WHO, UNICEF, and the United Nations. And of course, it would not be possible without substantial support from the Government of Japan, who recognized that it is in every country’s best interest to work together to accelerate vaccination, because no country is safe until every country is safe,” she said.
The Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka, Sugiyama Akira, noted that as a long-standing friend of Sri Lanka, approximately 1.45 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in Japan have been offered to further bolster the vaccination programme in Sri Lanka and ensure equitable access to vaccines for all people in need across the country.
“Japan has also provided USD 16.2 million to Sri Lanka to assist its combat against COVID-19, including improving its cold chain system. Globally, Japan has pledged USD 1 billion to the COVAX facility to accelerate vaccination in developing countries. Japan will continue to stand in solidarity with Sri Lanka in our fight against this global pandemic,” he said.
UNICEF Sri Lanka Representative a.i, Emma Brigham said that vaccination, alongside other preventive measures against COVID-19 is key in the fight against the pandemic.
“In line with the National Vaccine Deployment Plan, these vaccines will help reach the most vulnerable and key frontline workers. These vaccines from Japan to Sri Lanka demonstrate the true spirit of the collective global responsibility required to subdue the pandemic,” she said.
The WHO Representative to Sri Lanka, Dr Alaka Singh, stated that Japan’s donation is much appreciated as an exemplary demonstration of global solidarity for the pandemic response.
“The contribution is critical for fully vaccinating those who have already received the first dose of AstraZeneca. This would be an important milestone for H.E. President Rajapaksa’s laudable vaccination plan and puts Sri Lanka on track to lead on WHO’s call to each country to vaccinate 40% of their population by year end. WHO recognizes this as one of the key factors against transmission, along with critical reinforcement from public health and social measures,’ Dr Alaka Singh said.
UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, noted that with these vaccines the COVAX Facility has provided Sri Lanka with more than 3.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. (Colombo Gazette)