News

Covid-19 vaccination programme: 26,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses in early July 

  • Part of initial pilot consignment 

  • Talks on commercial consignments to follow 

  • 1 m each Sinopharm/Sputnik V by end-June 

  • 264K AstraZeneca 2nd doses likely by mid-July 

By Aazam Ameen

 

The first pilot consignment of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine containing a total of 26,000 doses is scheduled to arrive in the country on 5 July, The Sunday Morning learnt. 

Speaking to The Sunday Morning, State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) General Manager Dinusha Dassanayake confirmed that this pilot consignment was a purchase, and that discussions to procure commercial consignments of the same will begin after the SPC reports back to the manufacturer on certain arrangements.  

“After receiving this consignment, the SPC will have to report back to the manufacturer and inform them that we are comfortable with managing the logistical arrangements in terms of receiving consignments. Thereafter, we will begin discussions to purchase commercial consignments,” Dassanayake explained. 

Commenting on the anticipated arrival of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines, State Minister of Production, Supply, and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Prof. Channa Jayasumana, speaking to The Sunday Morning, noted that a meeting via Zoom was held among local experts and technicians, and the scientists of Pfizer Inc.  

“We described the available storage facilities and resources, and Pfizer was happy with it,” he added. 

Furthermore, Dassanayake also confirmed that another one million doses of the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products of China are expected to arrive by the end of this month.

However, he noted that the SPC has not received an exact date of arrival yet. 

In terms of the Sputnik V vaccine manufactured by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology of Russia, the SPC is supposed to receive another 1.2 million doses of the same during the course of this month. 

However, the manufacturer has not confirmed whether the anticipated stocks will arrive on time. 

Meanwhile, when questioned about the progress of the donation of Covid-19 vaccines to Sri Lanka, as recently pledged by the US, Prof. Jayasumana noted: “We are yet to be informed of the type and quantity of vaccines Sri Lanka is to receive through this donation. What we know for now is that the White House has issued a press release which stated that the administration of US President Joe Biden will donate seven million doses to South Asian and South East Asian countries.”  

When queried as to whether any further official communications have been made with regard to this, Prof. Jayasumana added that to date, the Production, Supply, and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals State Ministry had not received any such communication from the US authorities.

Prof. Jayasumana also pointed out that Sri Lanka is expecting the arrival of 264,000 second doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covishield Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility, within the first two weeks of July.