Apr 23, 2021

COVID-19 vaccinations : 2nd dose to commence in early May Featured

Principal Advisor to the President, Lalith Weeratunga said that administering the second dose of the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine will commence in early May.

Speaking at a special media conference on COVID-19 this evening (23), Mr. Weeratunga said that the previously recommended time for the second dose was in 04 weeks.

"However, later research had shown that the best period for the second dose is after about 12- 16 weeks. So our second dose will start accordingly, in around the 1st week of May," he said.

Talks with multiple manufacturers

He also said that the government says it is in talks with multiple manufacturers to secure COVID-19 vaccines and this includes other manufacturers of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

WHO approval for Sinopharm jab in 2 weeks

Talking about the Sinopharm vaccines gifted by China, Weeratunga said that they believe the Chinese jab would receive WHO approval within a maximum of 02 weeks.

"What we have been told by the WHO is that it will come in the first week of May," he said.

"So if that is the case, we have at hand around 600,000 (of course we have used around 4,000 of those for Chinese nationals here)... We have about roughly 590,000 plus vaccines which we can use on our own population, he added."

Mentioning about the Sputnik vaccine, he said that talks have been held with Russia on this regard and we will be getting a regular supply. "By about July - August, we should be getting about at least close to two million vaccines, he said.

Pfizer vaccines from April

Meanwhile, Chairman of the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation - Consultant Neurosurgeon Dr. Prasanna Gunasena said that the SPC has had talks with all COVID-19 manufacturers including the Pfizer manufacturer.

He added that the Sputnik vaccine manufacturer had entered into an agreement to provide 1/3 of the local vaccine requirement before the end of 2021.

We have also entered into agreement with the Pfizer vaccine manufacturer. Accordingly, they will provide 35,000 vaccines from April- June, 105,000 vaccines from July - September and a further 4.8 million vaccines from October - December, he further noted.

Noting that the WHO would be providing vaccines for 1/3 of the population while the Sputnik vaccine would be sufficient to vaccinate an additional similar portion, Dr. Gunasena pointed out that this would already cover 2/3 of the population. Backed the Pfizer consignments, we will be able to fulfil our target, he added.

No question about lack of fundsMeanwhile, Mr. Weeratunga also said that there is also a misconception that the government lacks funds to acquire the necessary vaccines.

"I want to very very clearly tell you that the government has allocated money, not only from its own budget - the consolidated fund, but the World Band and the ADB has also provided supporting funds... So there is no question of lack of funds. We have funds. The question is, availability on a timely basis.