Sri Lanka to Procure 2-3 Million Doses of Anti-Covid-19 Vaccine 'Covishield' from India, Says Official

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Sri Lanka will purchase 2 to 3 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from its Indian manufacturing company Serum Institute of India during the next two days, a top Sri Lankan official said here on Wednesday. Lalith Weeratunga, the advisor to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that purchasing from India will follow Thursday's arrival of India's free vaccines to Sri Lanka.

He said the Indian Covishield vaccine is to arrive tomorrow and the consignment will be accepted by President Rajapaksa at the Colombo international airport. 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 vaccination programme for which dry runs were made over the weekend will commence on Friday. Weeratunga added that 300,000 free vaccines from China are also due and the government would be requesting Russia also for the vaccine.

Sri Lanka has recorded a near 60,000 cases till January 26, with 288 deaths from the pandemic since it was found in the island nation in mid March last year. India is one of the world's biggest drug makers and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring the coronavirus vaccines. In the last few days, India has sent consignments of domestically produced coronavirus vaccines under grant assistance to Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Mauritius and Seychelles.

It is also undertaking commercial supplies of the doses to a number of countries, including Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Brazil and Morocco.