Claiming that it was not possible to prevent the Omicron Covid variant entering the country, medical experts said today the best way to face the new variant was to keep the immunity at a healthy stage by obtaining the Covid-19 vaccines at the earliest.
Director at Allergy, Immunology and Cell Biology Unit of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura Dr. Chandima Jeewandara said it was vital for the eligible personnel to obtain the booster dose as well to face the new variant.
He said laboratory facilities are available in the country to identify the virus through genetic analysis if it enters the country.
Speaking at an online press conference at the Presidential Media Centre (PMC), he said even though data was not available at the moment on the transmissibility and vaccine efficacy of the new variant, keeping immunity of the people at a healthy rate was crucial.
“Covid vaccines were discovered to face the Coronavirus originated in Vuhan, China. But, those vaccines were effective against other variants such as Delta emerged later on. We hope these vaccines will work against this new variant as well,” he said
Prof. Neelika Malavige from the Department of Immunology and Molecular Sciences of the Sri Jayawardenapura University said the other countries in the world were preparing to face the new variant by administering the booster dose.
“The health authorities in England have decided to administer booster doses to those above 18 after this new variant was reported. It is your responsibility to obtain the vaccine at the earliest,” she said.
She said according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the new variant had started to spread some 30 days ago and that it had been reported in communities in some countries.
“This new variant may spread similarly like the Delta variant or even faster than that. This may spread to all the countries like Delta variant did. Delta variant was spread to all the countries and it was leaked to countries like Australia where strict border restrictions and quarantine methods were adopted. The best thing to face the variant is to get the vaccine. It is highly unlikely that the new variant will develop complications in people who were fully vaccinated,” she said.
Health Ministry Secretary Sanjeewa Munasinghe said Sri Lanka had received 35.8 million vaccine doses so far and that 14 million of vaccine doses have already been ordered.
“We have used 30.4 million doses out of the 35.8 million doses we have received. We have ordered 14 more doses and two million of it has been received. The rest will be received weekly as the vaccines are used in the country,” he said.(Ajith Siriwardana)