The government will take a final decision on the most suitable vaccine to be administered on Sri Lankans early next week based on an expert report handed over to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by the senior advisor to President Lalith Weeratunga, Primary Health Services, Pandemics and Covid 19 Prevention State Minister Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle said yesterday.
The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine produced at Bloomington in Indiana in the US, Pfizer-Biontech Covid-19 Vaccine jointly produced by the two US and German pharmaceutical companies, the Oxford-astrazeneca vaccine from the UK and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine are the top contenders to place import orders proposed by Mr. Weeratunga after consulting foreign and local health and Pharmacology experts and virologists, Minister Fernandopulle said.
The efficacy ratio of Moderna vaccine is 94%, Pfizerbiontec vacciine 90%, Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine 90% and Sputnik V is 91.4%. All four vaccines are jabbed into the muscle as a 2-dose series ranging from 20 days to one month apart.
“The government will decide in the next few days as to what the best vaccine is for the Sri Lankan people. It could be one or two vaccines mostly. The government would also analyze the success rate of vaccination programme for Covid 19 in India when taking the final decision on the vaccines most suitable for Sri Lanka because the biological synonyms and climate conditions are much similar in both countries,” she said.
“We had several rounds of talks with officials of the World Health Organization (WHO) and other relevant stakeholders to the issue before compiling the report to the President,” Minister Fernandopulle added.
The government will have to make initial preparations before placing an order to airlift the selected vaccines such as to put in place cold storage facilities, safe transportation and on those who should be given preference for the first jab. Whatever the vaccines to be imported to control Covid 19 pandemic, they have to be registered with the National Medicinal Registration Authority (NMRA) prior to importation, Minister Fernandopulle pointed out.
“Target groups for the vaccine would be determined based on the requirement and priority. The high-risk groups and areas for the spread of virus including estates, apartment complexes and dormitories will get the priority,” Minister Fernandopulle stressed.
Minister Fernandopulle said the Indian government has consented for financial backing to Sri Lanka to import Covid 19 vaccines and the WHO 20% of the cost.
The Russian mission in Colombo has suggested to the government to give thoughts to the possibility of producing the Russian vaccine Sputnik V in Sri Lanka, she noted.