- Immunisation begins at Port City and several other districts
- Vaccinated group climbs to 924,479
- Second round of AstraZeneca vaccinations to start from 19 April
By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya
Chinese nationals residing in Sri Lanka were the first to receive the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine in the country yesterday, with 3,500 Port City Colombo workers to be vaccinated by tomorrow.
In addition to this, 400 Chinese workers in the Central Province and Kurunegala, Matale and Kegalle Districts received the Sinopharm vaccine in Kadugannawa yesterday.
“Vaccination of Chinese workers is taking in Colombo, Kandy, Hambantota and Puttalam. Scientific data shows that there is still a possibility of COVID-19 spread after vaccination. Due to this, it is extremely important that we follow COVID-19 safety guidelines even after receiving the vaccine,” Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Sudath Samaraweera said.
Despite receiving 600,000 doses of Sinopharm from the Government of China, the COVID-19 vaccine cannot be used to vaccinate Sri Lankans as the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) is yet to approve the vaccine for use in the country.
According to the Epidemiology Unit, 924,479 persons have been vaccinated in Sri Lanka to date. The vaccination drive made use of 1.2 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. Of this, 500,000 doses were donated by the Government of India, 500,000 doses were purchased from the Serum Institute of India and 264,000 doses were provided by the COVAX facility.
At a press briefing held yesterday, UNICEF Acting Country Representative – Sri Lanka Emma Brigham said she could not provide an update on the next supply of vaccines Sri Lanka would receive through the COVAX facility but said they are working closely and at the highest levels with the Government of India and the Serum Institute of India to deliver the next stock of vaccines.
Despite delays in receiving more Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines either through COVAX or directly from the Serum Institute of India, Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control State Minister Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle yesterday said in Parliament that the second dose would be administered from 19 April. In response to a question asked by Samagi Jana Balawegaya Parliamentarian Gayantha Karunatilleka, Dr. Fernandopulle stated that 300,000 doses of the vaccine had been set aside for the second dose, which is administered 10 to 12 weeks after the first dose.