‘We promoted a paniya & didn’t source vaccines’; Expert Committee Member

‘We promoted a paniya & didn’t source vaccines’; Expert Committee Member

‘We promoted a paniya & didn’t source vaccines’; Expert Committee Member

Written by Zulfick Farzan

25 May, 2021 | 6:17 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st); Sri Lanka failed to order the vaccines against COVID-19 in advance, said Dr. Lakkumar Fernando, a member of the Expert Committee appointed to make recommendations for importing the Covid-19 vaccine to Sri Lanka.

“Some countries placed orders which are two or three times the number of their population,” said Dr. Fernando on Tuesday (25) adding that the UK that has a population of 67 million ordered over 500 million doses of the vaccine.

He said Sri Lanka pursued other avenues rather than prioritizing the vaccine procurement process.

“We promoted various tonics or ‘Pani’, rather than ordering the vaccine,” he said.

The government has already allocated the necessary funds required to procure 14 million doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine and one million doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana revealed at the Cabinet media briefing on Tuesday (May 25).

“With the hope of inoculating 60 to 70 percent of the country’s population by the end of this year, the government has allocated the required funds to purchase 14 million doses of the Sinopharm jab from China and one (01) million doses of the Oxford AztraZeneca jab. Therefore, we expect to expedite the process of importing the vaccines based on the production capacity of the manufacturers,” Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana, the Joint Cabinet Spokesperson told reporters.

According to the Minister, another 500,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccines are expected to arrive in Sri Lanka on Tuesday (May 25).

“Moreover, the manufacturing companies have agreed to provide another 03 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine and a decision on the final date of delivery will be confirmed. We are expecting an announcement on the matter in the coming days,” Minister Ramesh Pathirana went further noted.

According to Minister Dr. Pathirana, the government expects to bring down a large number of vaccines in the month of June, and expand the COVID-19 vaccination drive in the country starting from the high-risk areas of the Western Province, covering all other areas where COVID-19 cases are rapidly detected.

Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana said ONE dose of the Sinopharm vaccine is priced at USD $15.

Sri Lanka is currently facing issues with sourcing the AstraZeneca vaccine, especially from the Serum Institute in India.

“Serum cannot keep up with the demand due to rising COVID numbers in India and because their factory was also damaged in a fire,” said Joint Cabinet Spokesperson Dr. Ramesh Pathirana on Tuesday (25) adding, therefore, Sri Lanka is looking at alternate vaccines for its citizens.

“We are looking at Sinopharm as the government’s priority is to vaccine more people at the earliest. We are also looking at the Russian Sputnik vaccine,” the Minister told reporters.

Sri Lanka still awaiting 600,000 AstraZeneca COVISHIELD doses to be administered as the second dose for Sri Lankans who already received the first jab, he said.

Only 300,000 Sri Lankans were given the second dose while almost 01 million Sri Lankans were given the first dose of the vaccine.

Joint-Cabinet Spokesperson Minister Udaya Gammanpila told reporters that the Government is in talks with countries that possess excess doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to meet the 600,000 shortage in Sri Lanka.

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