The Government has held diplomatic level discussions with Russia, India and China with regard to the purchasing of Covid-19 vaccines in addition to the obtaining of vaccines through the COVAX facility, Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi said yesterday.
She told Parliament that the Asian Development Bank has agreed to provide a grant of US$ 5 million for vaccine purchasing purposes.
The Minister said the government would take steps to provide the Pfizer vaccine if it was provided by the World Health Organization through the COVAX Facility.
“Coordinating work with regard to obtaining the vaccines is taking place. We can trust the success of the process.the COVAX Facility only grants vaccines. They do not provide financial aid to purchase vaccines. We will take steps to provide Pfizer vaccine if it was provided by the WHO through the the COVAX Facility’’.
She said Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) had agreed to provide US$ 370,000 as a donation to improve cold storage requirements in Sri Lanka following a request made by the Health Ministry.
“We have planned training sessions for our health staff on the vaccination.we have to submit the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan (NDVP) to COVAX before January 15.We have completed 60 per cent of the plan now. It will be handed over to COVAX of the WHO on January 12,” she said.
The Minister said priority groups have already been identified to provide the vaccine and added that the technical opinion was not to administer the vaccine to those below 18 and pregnant mothers, which was 35 per cent of the population.
“We have already identified the priority groups. There are 155,000 frontline health workers which is 0.68 of the population. Frontline tri-forces and police personnel are 127,500 which is 0.56 per cent. Expatriate workers, people visiting other countries as tourists and other risk groups make up 225,700 which is 1 per cent of the population,” she said.
“People above 60 years of age are 31,59,800 which is 14 per cent of the population. Working people with diseases between 18 and 59 years make up 32,27,510 of the population. It is 14.3 per cent. Working people between 40 and 59 without deseases are 31,14,660 and it is 13.8 per cent,” she said. (Ajith Siriwardana and Yohan Perera)