Health Ministry decides on priority list
By Dilanthi Jayamanne
With Cabinet granting approval for Sri Lanka to receive the COVID-19 vaccine under the COVAX programme, Consultant Epidemiologist, Dr. Deepa Gamage, said the Health Ministry had decided on a priority list of recipients.
Dr. Gamage said, yesterday (7), according to the priority list, it had identified those above 60 years, those suffering from comorbidities above the age of 40, and health and frontline workers. Responding to questions regarding possibilities of administering the vaccine to children, especially those with health complications, she said there were ongoing trials regarding the possibilities of administering the vaccine to children on an international basis. Therefore, children and adolescents had not been included in the priority list.
COVAX is co-led by the Global Alliance for Vaccination Initiative (GAVI), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country. Therefore, low-income countries too would have a fair chance to receive the vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, she said.
Dr. Gamage said the WHO had pledged to provide the vaccine to 20 per cent of the population free of charge, while the rest would have to be purchased.
Meanwhile, President of the College of Medical Laboratory Science Sri Lanka (CMLSSL), Ravi Kumudesh, said measures should be taken to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to all people, prioritising low-income earners.
Kumudesh, however, alleged the Health Ministry had not even initiated organised discussions for the preparation, validating, assessing of side effects, and preparation of storage and transport facilities for the vaccine. “Therefore, it would take an additional two months for the Ministry to start administering the vaccine, even if it were brought to the country tomorrow,” he said.