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Pfizer to supply 3 m vaccine doses to SL weekly from December

  • 1.5 m doses arrive yesterday, another 400 K due today

The US-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. has agreed to supply Sri Lanka with 3 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine – which has been stated by health officials to be the vaccine of choice in delivering a third/booster dose to citizens – on a weekly basis starting from December, according to State Minister of Production, Supply, and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Prof. Channa Jayasumana.

Speaking to the media on Sunday (21), he stated: “From the month of December, the company Pfizer has given us a commitment that they will supply 3 million doses of their vaccine on a weekly basis.”

On 1 November, the Government began administering a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to health workers, front line workers, and military personnel to ensure they would remain protected against the effects of the virus. At the time, Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Dr. Asela Gunawardena said the Pfizer vaccine would be used for the third dose, and that its rollout would follow the same priority list designated at the start of the national vaccine drive.

Subsequently, on 17 November, the third dose rollout commenced for those over the age of 60, while last Saturday (20), the administration of the third dose to vaccinated individuals with co-morbidities over the age of 20 began. The Pfizer vaccine was used in all instances. Accordingly, as of Saturday, just over 203,000 Sri Lankans were administered a third dose of Covid-19 vaccine. Last Friday (19), Deputy Director General of Health Services (DDG) Dr. Hemantha Herath was quoted as stating that the Pfizer vaccine would be the only choice for the third dose in the national vaccination effort.

Prof. Jayasumana announced the commitment from Pfizer Inc. at a media briefing held on Sunday to announce that a consignment of 1.5 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was scheduled to arrive in the country yesterday (22), while another batch of 400,000 doses of the same vaccine is scheduled to arrive today (23). Accordingly, the consignment of 1.5 million doses touched down at Bandaranaike International Airport yesterday morning.

At the media briefing, Prof. Jayasumana went on to state that the vaccination programme is progressing successfully, and that around 90% of the country’s population above the age of 20 years has been fully vaccinated.

According to data from the Health Ministry’s Epidemiology Unit, just over 13.7 million citizens have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, while just over 15.9 million citizens have received a single dose.

Prof. Jayasumana also said that it has been observed that the new sub-lineage of Delta variant of Covid-19 detected in the country, named B.1.617.2.104, is spreading among the country’s youth and schoolchildren. He therefore urged parents to make sure that their children are aware of the need to constantly adhere to health guidelines.