The government yesterday said that despite several difficulties faced within the past few weeks from 'unexpected influencers' to bring down the Sinopharm vaccines from China, the government had finally been successful.
State Minister of Pharmaceutical Production, Supply and Regulation Prof. Channa Jayasumana said that Sri Lanka faced many difficulties within the last two to three weeks from certain unexpected influencers from various parties to bring the vaccines to Sri Lanka, but the government had been able to overcome all this and had ultimately been able to make it a success.
Jayasumana said this even while the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) is yet to issue a clearance to administer the vaccines on locals, as officials await a document from Beijing with the English translation.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday officially accepted 600,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccines after it arrived from Beijing at the BIA and was accepted by China's Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong.
The ceremony was attended by Ministers and State Ministers including Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga and State Ministers Channa Jayasumana and Sudharshani Fernandopulle.
Jayasumana said the donation was a very important milestone in the friendship shared between China and Sri Lanka and thanked the Chinese President and government on behalf of the Sri Lankan government.
Ambassador Qi said the Chinese side appreciated that the Sri Lanka government had decided to include Chinese nationals in its vaccination plan.
"To this regard, on behalf of China, I would like to extend our highest appreciation for this most friendly gesture," the Chinese envoy said.
The Daily Mirror learns that Chinese nationals in Sri Lanka have already begun registering to receive the vaccine through a WeChat group which has been set up for this purpose. Following the pandemic, nearly 5,000 Chinese nationals reside in the country.
The vaccination program will commence for Chinese nationals as soon as possible while after approval is issued by the NMRA the vaccines will be administered to locals.
The Sinopharm also requires to be administered in two doses per person, similar to the Astra Zeneca vaccines.(JAMILA HUSAIN)