Sri Lanka is expected to receive the first batch of COVID vaccines under the COVAX facility this weekend, says State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control Sudarshini Fernandopulle.
Her remarks came during an event held at the Chilaw Hospital today.
The vaccine consignment with 264,000 doses will accordingly arrive in Sri Lanka on Sunday (March 07).
Under the COVAX facility, World Health Organization (WHO) had agreed to provide Sri Lanka with 20 percent of the vaccine requirement to vaccinate 4.2 million of the population.
COVAX facility is a global initiative that brings together governments and manufacturers to ensure equal distribution among the countries, subsequently to the manufacturing of secure and effective COVID-19 vaccines.
It was launched by Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and the WHO to ensure access for COVID-19 shots to poor and middle-income countries.
Sri Lanka kicked off its inoculation drive on January 29 upon receiving a consignment of 500,000 COVISHIELD vaccines donated by the Indian Government under its “Vaccine Maitri” (Vaccine Friendship) initiative, following a request made by the President to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
COVISHIELD is the name for Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India. The shots developed by UK-based drugmaker AstraZeneca and Oxford University are being mass-produced at Serum Institute of India (SII) – world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.
In the meantime, a consignment of 500,000 doses of COVISHIELD vaccines purchased from India arrived in Sri Lanka on February 25.
The purchase was part of an order signed between State Pharmaceutical Corporation and Serum Institute for 10 million doses of the vaccine valued at USD 52.5 million.