Another 11.8M Vaccines Needed

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Aug 3 2021

The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) will need another 11.8 million (11,813,245) COVID-19 vaccines if it is serious about a minimum 60 per cent (13.2 million) coverage of its population (22 million) benefiting by obtaining the ‘required’ two vaccinations by the year end for the inoculations to be efficacious. These figures are derived as per the vaccine coverage given by the Epidemiology Unit (EU) as at 10 a.m. yesterday. This discounts the possibility of Sri Lanka receiving any Johnson and Johnson (J&J), USA, vaccines which require only one shot, unlike the others which require two.

 A minimum coverage of 60 per cent of the population also means that GoSL will have to accelerate its monthly inoculation rate by 34.11 per cent (600,954) to 2,362,649 in the five months to December inclusive of this month, compared with the current rate of an average 1,761,695 vaccinations per mensem seen in the first seven months of the year as per EU data. A monthly inoculation rate of 2,362,649 translates to the need of having to inoculate at the rate of 78,755 persons per day to achieve the required minimum target before the year end. Yesterday this newspaper reported that 1.4 million jabs have been rolled out in the three days to Sunday. This works out to 466,667 jabs per day.

 If this tempo continues, GoSL will have had reached its minimum 60 per cent vaccination target set by the year end, before this month’s end! World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commenting on this achievement is quoted to have had praised Sri Lanka and said that the country is on track to fully vaccinate 10 per cent of its population ahead of the September target for vaccine equity. 

However, according to EU (see below), Sri Lanka had already inoculated 10.25 per cent of its population by 10 a.m. yesterday. Nonetheless, much more needs to be done. This newspaper knows of persons living in the suburbs of Colombo who have got only the first Sinopharm vaccine, with the public health inspector of that particular Grama Sevaka Division not knowing when the second dose will arrive. 

This also has to be looked at in the context that Sri Lanka has ‘fully’ vaccinated only 10.25 per cent (2,254,887) of its population (22 million) with the ‘required’ two COVID-19 vaccine doses each as at 10 a.m. yesterday, according to the EU. ‘Full vaccination’ is defined as having been vaccinated twice within the maximum specified time period between the first and the second last dose for the vaccine to be ‘effective’ for a year. The time period between the first and second jab varies from brand to brand. As said aforesaid, the only exception is the J&J brand where only one dose is required. All other brands require two jabs. 

However, according to available reports, it’s unlikely that Sri Lanka currently has obtained the J&J dose. Nonetheless in countries like Israel, it has begun rolling out a third shot because of the havoc caused by the deadly Delta variant, which variant is also causing havoc in Sri Lanka. GoSL targets to fully vaccinate at least 60 per cent (13.2 million) of its population (22 million) by the year end. Of a target of 13.2 million persons with two doses each by the year end means that it has to cover another 10,945,113 (13,200,000-2,254,887) of its population in the context that only 2,254,887 of the country’s population have got the two doses as at 10 a.m. 

yesterday according to the EU. Also, according to the EU, as at 10 a.m. yesterday. 10 076,981 of the population had got the first dose only. If GoSL is serious about obtaining a minimum 60 per cent coverage by the year end, for a start, it means that at least 10,076,981 of that population who have got only one vaccination ‘up to now,’ should be made to get their second dose post haste. 

If that only happens by the year end, Sri Lanka will have had fully vaccinated 12,331,868 (56.05 per cent) of its population. That will also mean that Sri Lanka will have had been short by 3.95 percentage points (7.05 per cent) or by 868,132 of fully vaccinating a minimum of 60 per cent (13.2 million) of its population by the year end as targeted. Further, a vaccine coverage of a minimum of 60 per cent (13.2 million) of its population by the year end means it will have to procure another 11,813,245 vaccines. 

Sri Lanka received its first batch of vaccines, AstraZeneca, manufactured under licence in India on 28 January 2021. That quantity comprised 500,000 doses. Since then and including those, Sri Lanka has vaccinated a total of 12,331,868 persons at the rate of 1,761,695 doses per month of at least one dose per person.

 Obtaining the balance doses in the remaining five months of the year, including this month, to meet its minimum 60 per cent coverage by the year end means the procurement of another 11,813,245 doses at the rate of 2,362,649 doses per mensem in the remaining five months of the year including this month. This means a monthly acceleration of 34.11 per cent (600,954) vaccine coverage in the remaining five months to December of this year including this month, compared with the current pace of administering 1,761,695 vaccine doses per mensem.

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Aug 3 2021

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