President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday, April 25, emphasised that only vaccination can end the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that people must strictly follow all rules and regulations recommended by the health authorities, as they did during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Only a vaccine can end the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government has a systematic and strong programme in place to vaccinate the public. The Government has made arrangements to import four of the COVID-19 vaccines currently approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and to be approved in the near future by the WHO,” the Presidential Media Division stated in a press release.
The first imported AstraZeneca vaccine has been administered to 925,242 persons. The second dose of the vaccine will be given in the first week of May this year. The second dose will first be given to 356,000 people, including frontline health staff and Tri-Forces and Police officers engaged in COVID-19 control. The Government is holding talks with foreign pharmaceutical firms that produce the AstraZeneca vaccine to meet the remaining demand.
Around 200,000 doses of the Russian made ‘Sputnik V’ Covid-19 vaccine will be available by the end of April, while 400,000 doses will be available in May, 800,000 doses in June and 1,200,000 doses in July this year.
Cabinet approval has already been granted to purchase and import 13 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine.
Plans are already on to distribute around 600,000 doses of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine donated by China to Sri Lanka in the next few weeks following WHO approval.
In addition, the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) has already signed preliminary agreements required for the import of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the Government is in the process of importing this mRNA-based vaccine as soon as possible.
The Head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has reiterated in Geneva yesterday that adherence to basic public health guidelines is the backbone of the fight against the increased spread of COVID-19. Properly wearing the face mask, occasional hand washing with soap and water or hand disinfectants, the practice of social distancing, and avoiding non-essential travel and events are among the most important.
Presidential Media Division press release also stated:
‘Some sections of society think that the country should be locked down for some time as a solution to control the spread of COVID-19. Although such an action may have satisfactory results at the beginning, in the long term it will have extremely detrimental effects on the lives of the people and the economy.
Developing countries such as Sri Lanka cannot take lockdown measures or impose curfews that obstruct the economic activities. The majority of our country’s income earners depend on informal livelihoods.
Therefore, while the Government is fulfilling its responsibilities, the people must fulfill their respective responsibilities and duties for the betterment of the country as well as themselves’.