Colombo, Jan 30 (PTI) No adverse reactions or side-effects have so far been reported by 5,286 people who were vaccinated in Sri Lanka on Friday with Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine Covishield, provided by India, health officials said on Saturday.
Sri Lanka on Friday launched its national coronavirus immunisation campaign by administering the first shots to frontline health workers, soldiers and security personnel, a day after India gifted 500,000 doses of Covishield vaccine to the island nation.
As many as 5,286 people were administered the jabs at nine hospitals, including two military hospitals, on the first day.
No adverse reactions or side-effects have so far been reported from anywhere, the health officials said.
The Oxford-Astrazeneca’s Covishield vaccine, manufactured by Serum Institute of India, was approved for emergency use by the Sri Lankan government.
Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, who is in the ICU after being tested positive for COVID-19, issued a statement on Saturday from her hospital bed, thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government for making the vaccine available free to Sri Lanka.
The gift from India is in line with India’s continued support to Sri Lanka in fighting the COVID pandemic. Four consignments of medical supplies weighing around 25 tonnes were donated by India, which also organised online experience-sharing programmes for Sri Lankan medical professionals.
The two nations have also put up a joint front in the COVID-19 battle with India and Sri Lanka being the largest contributors to the COVID-19 Emergency Fund for SAARC. Prime Minister Modi had complimented Sri Lanka’s leadership on containing the pandemic.
On Thursday, Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa thanked India for its generosity after he received 500,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine. The president was personally present at the airport to receive the vaccines. A total of 250,000 people, mostly health frontline workers, members of the security forces and police and the vulnerable aged, will get the vaccine on a priority basis.
The Sri Lankan health authorities said the immunisation programme is ongoing in nine hospitals across the country.
Sri Lanka has recorded over 300 deaths so far due to COVID-19.
Sri Lanka witnessed a fresh outbreak of the disease in October last year when two clusters - one centered on a garment factory and the other on the main fish market - emerged in Colombo and its suburbs. PTI CORR PMS