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SL yet to learn of delivery date : US’s Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 

  • Covishield AstraZeneca vaccines not forthcoming yet 

  • Sinopharm, Sputnik V, Pfizer-BioNTech, arriving as scheduled 

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

 

Sri Lanka is yet to be informed of a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine delivery date from the US despite the country’s name having been included in the list of countries to be receiving vaccines from the US, according to the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC), The Sunday Morning learnt. 

SPC General Manager Dinusha Dassanayake told The Sunday Morning that although Sri Lanka has been included in the list of countries to receive Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses from the US, they have yet to confirm any delivery dates. 

Last week, US President Joe Biden had pledged to share 80 million vaccine doses with other countries, with most of those to be distributed by Covax, a global alliance of multilateral agencies. 

As it was reported, the Covid-19 vaccine doses would be procured by the US Government and then donated to 92 lower income countries and the African Union over the course of next year, and that the US will pay not-for-profit prices to Pfizer and BioNTech for supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with 200 million doses to be distributed this year and 300 million more by the middle of next year. 

At present, Sri Lanka is struggling to secure at least 600,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India to administer as the second dose. It has already administered over 900,000 with Covishield, but only around 350,000 people have received both the vaccine doses. 

The SPC as well as the Government have held a number of discussions with foreign governments as well as agents to secure Covishield vaccines but the attempts have yet to bear fruit. 

It was also reported last week that Sri Lanka has requested Japan to provide 600,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine in an attempt to complete administering the second dose to citizens who received the first from the same vaccine. 

Sri Lanka is facing a severe shortage of Covishield vaccines, as the producer in neighbouring India failed to provide the promised stock due to the crisis in that country. On 9 June, the President’s office announced that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had requested Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to provide 600,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine. 

Dassanayake meanwhile said that the stocks of other vaccines, including the Chinese Sinopharm, the Russian Sputnik V, and Pfizer-BioNTech, would arrive as scheduled.