Sri Lanka has ordered 13.5 million Oxford AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines in addition to the 500,000 doses offered by India, and the country cannot use Chinese vaccines in the second phase of vaccination, said today a government spokesperson.
Ramesh Pathirana, who is also Minister of Plantations, said Sri Lanka would likely only go with AstraZeneca vaccines for the second round of vaccination, as Chinese and Russian vaccines are not yet ready.
“The Chinese vaccine did not submit the phase three trials papers,” Pathirana said.
For the first round of vaccinations, the government placed an order for 10 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India at a cost of US $ 52.5 million and an additional 3.5 million doses directly from the AstraZeneca Institute of UK as part of the COVAX program, the spokesperson said.
India offered 500,000 doses of the same vaccine, which kicked off the rollout of the vaccine in Sri Lanka at the end of January.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa thanked India last month for its generosity after receiving 500,000 doses of Covishield vaccine donated by the country as part of the Neighborhood First policy.
The government will be led by the best medical advice on when the second dose should be given, Mr Pathirana said, adding that although initially it was believed the booster should be given after four weeks.
In recent weeks, health experts have said delaying the second dose for three months may increase the vaccine’s effectiveness.
Last month India announced that it would send COVID-19 vaccines as part of grant aid to Sri Lanka and seven other countries – Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles, Afghanistan and Mauritius.
India is one of the largest drug makers in the world, and a growing number of countries have already contacted it for their coronavirus vaccines.
Sri Lanka has so far recorded more than 80,500 coronavirus cases with 450 deaths.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by The Bharat Express News staff and is posted Platforms.)