Govt to Purchase Vaccines from Countries with Excess Stocks

Thameenah Razeek, Dilanthi Jayamanne & W.K. Prasad Manju (AN) | Published: 8:50 AM May 5 2021
Local Govt to Purchase Vaccines from Countries with Excess Stocks

The Government is planning to purchase COVID-19 vaccine from a number of countries that have purchased in excess. It is reported that there are about 50 countries where there is currently a surplus of COVID-19 vaccines and representatives of the Government have already commenced discussions with those countries to try and purchase these excess vaccines, through the World Health Organisation (WHO), as soon as possible. It is understood the Government has made preparations to obtain 5.5 million AstraZeneca COVID vaccine doses from Malaysia.

It has also been reported that there is a large excess of COVID vaccines in Sudan and that the Government is focusing attention on purchasing these as well. It is reported that certain countries have purchased more than the requirement of vaccines and as a result there is a surplus. In addition, although several more countries had purchased vaccines, due to their being unable to carry out the vaccination programme properly these vaccines are said to be still in storage in those countries. 

It is reported that as a result, those countries have decided to obtain advice from the World Health Organisation on how to successfully implement a vaccination procedure. The Government has signed up for 13.5 million doses of Sputnik – V coronavirus vaccine with the Russian Government and every Friday Sri Lanka will receive a consignment of 100,000 doses from Russia, co-Cabinet Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said yesterday (4). Addressing the weekly Cabinet media briefing at Department of Government Information, Rambukwella claimed that by September the 13.5 million doses of Sputnik - V will be received. 

A total 15,000 doses of Sputnik V shots reached Sri Lanka on board Qatar Airlines during the early hours of yesterday (4), the State Ministry for Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals (PSRP) said. The stock was handed over to the State Minister of PSRP, Prof. Channa Jayasumana by Russian Ambassador, Alexey Bogdanov. 

An official for the Ministry noted that the stock was imported by the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC). He said that officials of the Russian Embassy, SPC Chairman, Dr. Prasanna Gunasena and several other officials were present on the occasion. Meanwhile the State Minister for Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Control (SMPHCECC), Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle said that once the 15,000 doses were used and the suppliers were confident that the Sri Lankan Health authorities were able to provide the required logistics, cold chain facilities and could use it to inoculate Sri Lankans, more doses of the vaccine would be exported to Sri Lanka by its Russian supplier. 

Dr. Fernandopulle noted that the vaccination would tentatively commence towards the end of May 2021. The General Manager of the SPC said that Sri Lanka was to import close to two million more shots of the vaccine in batches. “This initial stock was only a pilot project,” he said earlier. The Russian COVID-19 vaccine is developed by Gamaleya Institute. 

“It is very clearly shown that the vaccinated areas show lesser number of COVID-19 positive cases. The best mechanism to prevent the spread of the virus is vaccination,” Co-Cabinet Spokesperson Dr. Ramesh Pathirana pointed out. Furthermore, the Government is awaiting the approval of the World Health Organization (WHO) to use China’s Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use. Currently, there are 600,000 Sinopharm doses in the country and once the Government get the approval, they are looking forward to immunizing 600,000 people across the island. 

Meanwhile, speaking about the delay of giving the second dose of Oxford AztraZeneca COVISHIELD vaccine, Dr. Pathirana said that Sri Lanka has vaccine doses of 345,000 and apart from that, they are hoping to purchase COVISHIELD vaccines that are excess in other countries. “Even the WHO is concerned about the shortage of vaccines and that is why they are experimenting whether it is okay to immunize people against COVOD-19 with two different brands of vaccines,” he said. 

Rambukwella also assured that the Government has enough funds to purchase coronavirus vaccines. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said that arrangements to purchase vaccinations for the control of COVID-19 from several countries have been put in place and that required steps are being taken to give the second dose to people from now. Prime Minister Rajapaksa made this comment yesterday (4) while participating in a meeting of ruling party Parliamentarians held at Committee Hall No. 1 of the Parliamentary complex. “We have ordered the vaccine for the control of COVID-19 from several countries. 

We received the Sputnik vaccine from Russia last night. Those vaccines will be given to 2.7 million persons.” It is reported further that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had said that the task of purchasing the vaccine for COVID from China, Russia, America, England and Australia is currently underway and that the second dose of the vaccine is being administered to persons who have already been vaccinated with the first dose. This meeting of the ruling party group of Parliamentarians was held under the leadership of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Thameenah Razeek, Dilanthi Jayamanne & W.K. Prasad Manju (AN) | Published: 8:50 AM May 5 2021

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