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All vaccines reduce death and hospitalisation – SLMA

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The Sri Lanka Medical Association on Thursday (09) said that all vaccines reduced death and hospitalisation, and some fully-vaccinated people could get reinfected they will mostly develop mild symptoms such as fever, cough, etc.

The SLMC said that Sri Lanka had relied on vaccination and movement restriction to control the Covid-19 epidemic and that all vaccines approved so far by the NMRA had saved many lives and prevented severe disease. Most people who have died from COVID are unvaccinated individuals. It is therefore essential that all unvaccinated people, over the age of 18 years be immunised, with any of the available vaccines at earliest possible, SLMA President, Dr. Padma Gunaratne said.

“Subject to above recommendation, the SLMA has formulated recommendations further based on scientific principles with an objective of preventing severe disease and deaths. Preventing severe disease will reduce congestion in hospitals and ICU, and will indirectly benefit people with other diseases who also need ICU facilities,” she said.

The SLMA has issued a media statement: “With the roll out of the vaccines, certain characteristics that are specific for the type of the vaccines have been identified. Especially with the Delta variant, while all vaccines reduce death and hospitalization, fully vaccinated people can be infected and develop mild symptoms, such as fever, cough, etc. However, studies have revealed that a minority of fully vaccinated people can get severe disease, and may even die. Studies from Bahrain has shown that in those over 50 years, people given the Sinopharm vaccine, while preventing death and severe disease compared to the unvaccinated, had a slightly increased death rate, and’ hospitalisation compared to the Pfizer, Moderna, Sputnik and AstraZeneca vaccines. Studies from the laboratory of the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine, Sri Jayewardenepura University (SJPU) has shown that, while almost all people over 60 years given the AZ vaccine develop antibodies, a very small proportion, 7%, given Sinopharm do not do so. In addition, patients with some diseases or on certain drugs (organ and stem cell (bone marrow) transplant recipients, patients with active cancer, those on immunosuppressive therapies and on dialysis, advanced HIV have a weak immune system, and will not produce antibodies, whatever the vaccine that was given.

“1. For this reason, we propose that people over 60 who had been given two doses of Sinopharm, and those with a weak immune system, be given a third dose, with AZ, Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. The study from Bahrain and data from SJPU indicate that people below 60 years produce a robust immune response to Sinopharm, and are protected from death or severe disease.

“2. We therefore recommend that all people (without the diseases mentioned above) are given two doses of Sinopharm. Children from 12 — 18 years generally do not get severe disease. However, children with certain underlying diseases may get severe disease. We therefore recommend two doses of Pfizer for this group. Some people have been administered one dose of Sputnik; the second dose is different from the first. If the second dose is not available.We suggest that a single dose of AZ, Pfizer or Moderna be given instead.

“Studies in the UK and the US have shown, that, with AZ, Pfizer and Moderna, protection (effectiveness) against severe disease and death is maintained for at least six months.

We therefore suggest that, as there may be a waning of immunity with time, a booster dose of the same or a different vaccine, be given to people over 60 years, who had been given two doses of AZ, at least 6 months after the second dose. Studies have shown that immunity is boosted, with this regimen.”



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GL follows up Udaya’s initiative, negotiates concessionary crude oil supplies with UAE

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Balance-of-payment crisis continues to stagger govt.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The United Arab Emirates (UAD) has agreed to discuss a possible arrangement to provide Sri Lanka crude oil on concessionary terms in the face of the country experiencing a severe balance-of-payments crisis, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris took up the matter with UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, on the sidelines of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. Prof. Peiris is on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s delegation to the UNGA.

In late August, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila sought the intervention of the Acting Head of the UAE Embassy in Sri Lanka, Saif Alanofy. Minister Gammanpila also met the Iranian Ambassador in Colombo in a bid to explore the possibility of obtaining oil from Iran on concessionary arrangements.

The Foreign Ministry statement on Prof. Peiris meeting with the UAE Minister dealt with the financial crisis experienced by the country. “Foreign Minister Peiris explained the challenges Sri Lanka is experiencing in respect of its external budget, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prof. Peiris focused in particular on the country’s requirement for oil and requested concessionary arrangements from the UAE.”

The Foreign Ministry quoted Minister Al Jaber as having said that the UAE would be happy to assist and proposed the establishment of a strategic framework to take the process forward.”

The ministry stressed that both sides agreed to follow-up rapidly.

Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila earlier told The Island that concessionary arrangements were required to procure oil as part of an overall strategy to overcome the developing crisis.

Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader and Attorney-at-law Gammanpila said that increase in fuel prices in the second week of June this year was only a part of the government’s response to heavy pressure on foreign reserves. Minister Gammanpila said that the decision was taken close on the heels of dire warning from the Central Bank.

Minister Gammanpila said that in spite of foreign currency crisis, the government ensured an uninterrupted supply of fuel. According to him, Sri Lanka spent as much as USD 3.5 to 5 bn annually on oil imports depending on the world market prices.

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President attends 9/11 commemoration in NY

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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday attended the special commemorative event near the Manhattan Memorial in the United States to mark the 20th anniversary of terrorist attacks in Washington and New York.

The terrorist attacks took place on September 11, 2001, targeting the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, the headquarters of the United States Department of Defence.

Coinciding with the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and the 9/11 Memorial Museum jointly organised the event. Other Heads of State and government representatives, who were in New York to attend the UN General Assembly, were also present at the event to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in those attacks.

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FSP calls on govt. allies not to pretend to oppose adverse deal with US firm

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By Anuradha Hiripitiyage

Due to the secret agreement signed with US firm New Fortress Energy, Sri Lanka would soon face a situation akin to the one already faced by Ukraine, the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) predicted yesterday.

“Sri Lanka is trying to reduce its dependency on coal and switch over to LNG. With this in mind, several coal and diesel power plants are to be converted into LNG in the coming decade. Now, we will entirely depend on the US to provide us with LNG to power these plants. Given that the US intends to control the seas in which Sri Lanka is placed strategically, they will not let us off the hook once they establish their foothold here. We are in deep trouble,” FSP Propaganda Secretary, Duminda Nagamuwa said.

Nagamuwa said that some constituents of the government were pretending that they opposed the transfer of government’s shares in the Yugadanavi Power Plant to New Fortress Energy. “But this is not the time for theatrics but for concrete action”, he said.

Nagamuwa said that the agreement between the government and US Company New Fortress Energy to construct a new offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving, storage and regasification terminal at Kerawalapitiya as well as the transfer of government’s shares in the Yugadanavi Power Plant had to be scrapped.

“Even government ministers agree that the agreement was not discussed with them. Several affiliates of the government are trying to convince the people that they are fighting this decision from inside. However, past experience has shown that when push comes to shove they will stay with the government. They must show the leaders of the government that they are not puppets,” he said.

Nagamuwa said that if those affiliated to the government were serious in their opposition to undermining Sri Lanka’s energy security they should show their commitment by doing something concrete.

The Yugadanavi Power Station at Kerawalapitiya already produced 300 MWs of energy and there was a plan to build another 350 MW plant there. The US Company had now been allowed to build an offshore LNG receiving, storage, and regasification terminal and to provide LNG to the existing Power Station and the new 350 MW power plant to be built, he said.

“Now we are under the power of the US. We will soon be facing the plight of Ukraine,” he said.

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