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Vaccination: Lessons from Sri Lanka

  • Published at 07:06 pm August 4th, 2021
South Asia Vaccine Sri Lanka
A health worker inoculates a pregnant woman with a dose of the Chinese-made Sinopharm Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Colombo on June 9, 2021 AFP

The island nation is keen to inoculate two doses of Covid-19 vaccines to 13.5 million citizens above 30 years by September or October this year

Sri Lanka has been injecting a significant number of Covid-19 jabs since early July, giving a dramatic boost to its nationwide inoculation campaign against the deadly disease. 

In the process, the island nation for the first time administered more than 500,000 shots on July 29, which was appreciated by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The global health body, through a statement on its official Twitter account, said that by administering such a large number of vaccines in a single day, the Sri Lankan government had achieved an impressive milestone.

Having jabbed 515,830 doses of the vaccines that day, Sri Lanka administered 513,820 doses on July 30, with the third-highest number of vaccines per day of 437,878 administered in the country on July 26.

Official data as of Tuesday show that Sri Lanka has already crossed the 13 million mark of doses. 

But the most obvious question the situation begs is: what is behind the massive vaccination surge there?

The government’s plan to inoculate two doses of Covid-19 vaccines to 13.5 million citizens above 30 years by September or October this year is the key factor.

Giving credit to the plan and its execution by the government, Mass Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella on Tuesday claimed that the authorities were confident of reaching the goal.

“Vaccination has been identified as the best way to control the pandemic and we are doing it in quite an effective and efficient manner. One of the most efficient vaccination drives in the world is taking place in Sri Lanka,” he said.

On July 30, the Sri Lankan president’s Senior Advisor Lalith Weeratunga said that the vaccination of all citizens over 30 would be completed by September 15.

A massive supply of China's Sinopharm vaccine also greatly helped make this happen, with more than 10 million shots of the brand administered till Tuesday.

However, Sri Lanka has been facing a shortage of more than 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine after the producer in India failed to deliver the promised shots amounting to nearly 13 million, because of the surge of the virus in India itself.

Amid the crisis, Japan pledged to donate 1.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Sri Lanka.

Other than the two vaccines, Sri Lanka is also injecting Sputnik V, Pfizer and Moderna jabs. 

According to Worldometer as of yesterday, Sri Lanka has registered 316,219 cases, and 4,645 deaths.

WHO appreciations pour in

In yet another tweet on Monday, the WHO chief said that Sri Lanka was on track to fully vaccinate 10 per cent of the country’s population ahead of the vaccine equity September target.

“Glad to see that Sri Lanka is on track to fully vaccinate 10% of its population ahead of the Vaccine Equity September target! Thanks to the Government and people of Sri Lanka for their efforts, and continued vigilance on proven public health and social measures to suppress the virus,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted.

Sri Lanka reached the milestones of one million shots on May 12, two million doses on June 8 and three 3 million jabs on July 5. It took the Saarc nation just 25 days to reach the nine million milestones in Covid shots.

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