Sri Lanka to receive first batch of Covid-19 vaccines on Jan. 27, says President


The first batch of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines manufactured in India is expected to arrive in Sri Lanka on the 27th of January 27, says President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Accordingly, Sri Lanka will be receiving the 500,000 vials of doses with the first vaccine consignment.

The President’s remarks came during the ‘Gama Samaga Pilisandara’ programme held in Walallawita, Kalutara yesterday, January 23.

He noted that Covid-19 jabs will be first administered to medical officers, Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) and other health sector workers who are on the front line of coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Officers of tri-forces who work closely with medical staff and people who are more vulnerable to virus infection will be given the jabs subsequently, the President added.

The National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) approved the emergency use of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines in Sri Lanka.

Indian High Commission in Colombo later said the Sri Lankan government has conveyed that approval was granted for the emergency use of COVISHIELD vaccines.

COVISHIELD is the local name for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine developed in the United Kingdom.

The shots developed by UK-based drugmaker AstraZeneca and Oxford University are being manufactured at India’s Serum Institute – world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.

The vaccine, which is known as COVISHIELD, is developed from a weakened version of a common cold virus (known as an adenovirus) from chimpanzees.

It is administered in two shots – the second dose must be taken four to six weeks following the first.

Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech jabs, which require 70C temperature for storage, COVISHIELD can be safely stored at temperatures of 2C to 8C, which is about the same as a domestic refrigerator.

India on Wednesday, January 20, began supplying Covid-19 vaccines to six neighbouring and key partner countries. Thereby, Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles became the first recipients of India-manufactured vaccines.

The vaccines supplied to neighbouring countries are sent as grants and India’s External Affairs Ministry said the vaccines were not part of COVAX – the United Nations-backed global effort aimed at lower-income nations to obtain the jabs.