The government is exploring the possibility of obtaining a coronavirus vaccine under a bilateral agreement with India, an official said yesterday.
The Serum Institute of India is the maker of Oxford /Astrazeneca vaccine which was cited by the health officials earlier as the best for Sri Lanka.india has begun a twoday dry run for coronavirus vaccination in four states across the country ahead of a full roll-out in January.
Principal Advisor to President Lalith Weeratunga who has been assigned to engage with the relevant stakeholders to obtain a vaccine said Sri Lanka would seek such an arrangement with India to secure access to a vaccine being manufactured.he said it would help boost bilateral ties.
Mr.weeratunga told Daily Mirror the government would seek to get a coronavirus vaccine under a grant or a government-to-government agreement. Otherwise,it will be obtained from an agent selected through a competitive bidding process.
Besides, he said Sri Lanka remains open for the Russian Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine or a vaccine being developed in China at the moment.
Asserting that no one would provide any vaccine to Sri Lanka without indemnity, he said legal clearance is in process in this regard.
He said the Attorney General had given certain clearance in this regard. In addition, the government is planning to invoke the national policy on immunization approved by the Cabinet in the past in giving indemnity for suppliers. According to Mr. Weeratunga, the process has to be completed before January 8, 2021.
He said Sri Lanka would be among the very first countries, other than those producing vaccines, to start mass inoculation.
Asked who would receive the jabs first, he said frontline health workers,people with non-communicable diseases and those above 60 would be prioritized.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) will give us some guidelines in this regard,” he said. (KELUM BANDARA)