No date fixed to start 2nd dose

  • Crucial meeting next week
  • 16-week gap between doses on the cards
  • No arrival date yet for next Covishield batch
  • 100k Sputnik V doses this month

By Hiranyada Dewasiri

No date has been fixed for the administration of the second dose of the Oxford Astra-Zeneca “Covishield” vaccine, despite both the Ministry of Health and the State Ministry of Covid-19 originally announcing their intention to begin administration next week, The Morning learnt.

Speaking to The Morning yesterday (15), Ministry of Health Epidemiology Unit Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Sudath Samaraweera said that a technical committee discussion would be held next week where the commencement date of the rollout of the second dose of Covishield and the gap to be maintained between the two doses would be discussed.

“We will have a discussion next week to talk about the vaccination programme and the date for the administration of the second dose of Covishield as well as whether it would be administered with a 16-week gap between the two doses.”

When inquired by The Morning previously, Dr. Samaraweera said that the administration of the second dose of the Covishield vaccine would commence on 19 April.

It was reported earlier that the Ministry of Health is reconsidering the earlier 10- to 12-week gap between the vaccines in light of the latest research showing that the protection of the first dose of the Covishield vaccine lasts for up to 16 weeks.

The Morning reported earlier that the Ministry of Health has set aside a stock of 200,000 doses of Covishield for the administration of the second dose.

Meanwhile, The Morning learnt from the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) that there has been no date confirmed for the arrival of the next stock of 500,000 Covishield doses that the Government has ordered from the Serum Institute of India (SII).

Speaking to The Morning, SPC General Manager Dinusha Dassanayake said: “There has been no confirmation from the Serum Institute about the delivery date of the next batch of vaccines yet.”

However, he said that a stock of 200,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine to be administered to 100,000 persons would arrive in Sri Lanka within this month as reported earlier.

Citing the new surge of Covid-19-positive cases in India, neighbouring Covishield manufacturer, the SII had communicated to several countries in late March that they would not be able to deliver vaccine orders as has been scheduled due to the domestic demand to vaccinate the local population and that the deliveries would be made after the end of April.

So far, Sri Lanka has received 1.264 million of the SII’s Oxford Astra-Zeneca Covishield vaccine, and 500,000 of these doses were procured by the SPC. The first 500,000 doses came as a donation under India’s “Vaccine Maitri” programme and 264,000 doses came under the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) Covax Facility.

A total of 925,242 Sri Lankans were vaccinated with their first dose of Covishield by 10 April, at which point the vaccination was temporarily halted.