Sri Lanka in the need to catch up as countries ramp up Covid 19 vaccination

Sri Lanka in the need to catch up as countries ramp up Covid 19 vaccination

Sri Lanka in the need to catch up as countries ramp up Covid 19 vaccination

Written by Staff Writer

30 Dec, 2020 | 9:18 pm

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, with the first doses due to be given on Monday (4th) amid rising coronavirus cases.

The UK is the first country to approve the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine.

The vaccine is cheaper and easier to distribute than some alternatives and could in time offer a route out of the pandemic for large parts of the world.

The UK has ordered 100 million doses – enough to vaccinate 50 million people.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the vaccine development “a triumph” for British science, adding: “We will now move to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.”

More than 600,000 people in the UK have been vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.

Meanwhile, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is cheaper when compared to the Sinovac vaccine from China, Moderna vaccine from the US and Sputnik V from Russia.

How is Sri Lanka preparing to bring down a vaccine to tackle COVID-19?

State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle said they will currently be resorting to the Pfizer-BioNTech.

“Moderna will not be available as the US will only issue it once their requirement is fulfilled. We cannot give a definite day. But we are ready to start the process from March.” She further said.

Acting Deputy Director General of Public Health Services, Specialist Dr. Hemantha Herath said, “A separate process is underway with the leadership of former Secretary to the President Lalith Weerathunge.” under the guidance of the World Health Organization.

“Another committee headed by the additional secretary to the Health Ministry is making arrangement to bring down a vaccine. As a result of all these measures, we will be able to get a finalized answer.” he assured the public.

Assistant Secretary of the GMOA, Dr. Naveen De Soyza said, regarding the Pfizer-BioNTech virus that “it should be kept at -70C. From the time of manufacturing the vaccine has to be maintained in a certain temperature until the end user receives it.”

“We have to first see if the maintenance process to facilitate the vaccine is available here, once it is purchased.” he added.

State Minister, Susil Premajayantha said, “a program is implemented to pick a suitable vaccine for us by the 2nd and 3rd months of the year. This is done with the recommendations of the expert committee.”

Bangladesh has entered into an agreement with the Serum Institute in India to purchase 30 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine at a time Sri Lanka has not made a definite decision on the COVID-19 vaccine.

In addition, another 68 million doses of the vaccine will be obtained from the International Vaccine Institute.

The Maldives has already announced that 20% of its population will be vaccinated starting from January.

India is also expected to launch a COVID-19 vaccination program in January 2021 and it is reported that Pakistan will most likely obtain the vaccine manufactured in China.

So far, Belgium, Latvia, Indonesia, the United States, Russia, Britain, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Mexico, Serbia and Switzerland have launched COVID-19 vaccination programs, and Iran and the Netherlands are making arrangements to obtain the vaccine.

Samagi Jana Balavegaya MP Patali Champika Ranawaka said, “Indonesia, a much larger country several times the size of ours has managed to order the AztraZeneca vaccine for 1.64 USD. According to our scientists, we can obtain this vaccine for 2 USD, taking into account the cost of storage. In that case, it would only cost 40 million USD to provide this vaccine for our citizens. That is roughly 8 billion rupees.”

He further made a revelation regarding attempts to “procure the vaccine from either China or Russia.”

“The quality of the vaccine may or may not have been assured by international entities. However, we need a vaccine that has a definitive standard of quality. Assurances of either the WHO and COVAX are required for us to be certain that the medicine is of satisfactory quality” he warned.

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