To check this claim, FactCheck.lk consulted the latest press releases by the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health and Our World in Data statistics on COVID-19 vaccinations. To evaluate the first claim, FactCheck.lk considered the MP to be referring to the number of people who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. To evaluate the second claim, FactCheck.lk considered the South Asian region (comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Pakistan) which is the smallest geographically defined region that includes Sri Lanka, as the regional benchmark.
On the MP’s first claim, data from the Epidemiology Unit reports that prior to the MP’s statement, a total of 1,456,485 people (or 6.7 people per hundred) had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Therefore, the MP is correct in his claim that less than 2 million Sri Lankans have been vaccinated at the time of his statement.
The MP’s second statement can be evaluated based on (i) the total number of people vaccinated and (ii) the percentage of the population (or people per hundred) vaccinated. According to Our World in Data (which reports a slightly lower number of 1,439,501 vaccinated for Sri Lanka) the total number of people vaccinated by Sri Lanka was higher than Bhutan (482,578), Afghanistan (476,367), and Maldives (307,210). Considering the number of people that have been vaccinated relative to the population size, Sri Lanka had vaccinated more people per hundred (6.72) than Bangladesh (3.54), Pakistan (1.88), and Afghanistan (1.22). Sri Lanka has not vaccinated the lowest number under either of the two criteria. Furthermore, Sri Lanka ranks higher than Afghanistan under both criteria.
The MP is correct about the proportion of the population being vaccinated at the time of his statement. However, his claim that Sri Lanka has vaccinated the least number of people in the region is not correct in respect of Afghanistan on either of the criteria that we have considered. Therefore, we classify his statement as PARTLY TRUE.
Exhibit 1: Country ranking of COVID-19 vaccinations in South Asia (by 24 May 2021)
FactCheck is a platform run by Verité Research. For comments, suggestions and feedback, please visit www.factcheck.lk.