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Jayasumana explains how AZ use can be maximised



By Shamindra Ferdinando

State Minister of Pharmaceutical Production, Supply and Regulation Prof. Channa Jayasumana says those tasked with the inoculation drive managed to immunise a higher number of persons than expected by withdrawing and administering accurate vaccine doses in the multi-dose phials.

The WHO says that in multi-dose phials, there can be a difference between the number of doses stated on their labels and the actual number of doses that can be withdrawn. “The true number of doses available from a multi-dose phial will depend on several factors such as syringe dead space, phial overfill volume, and technique and accuracy of doses withdrawn and delivered.”

Prof. Jaysumana said so in response to The Island query how the health administration inoculated 1,301,026 by June 29, 8.30 pm having received 1,264,000 AstraZeneca (Covishield) doses. We raised the issue at hand on the basis of figures pertaining to the ongoing vaccination drive made available by the Epidemiology Unit of the Health Ministry on June 29.

Prof. Jayasumana said that AstraZeneca vaccine was received in bottles – each prescribed to inoculate 10 persons (ml .5 each) though 12 could be immunized due to the availability of an additional 1ml in each bottle.

“We instructed inoculation of 11 persons though initially one phial was used for 10 persons. Some pointed out the waste and instructions were issued immediately to remedy the situation,” Prof. Jayasumana said, adding that an experienced person can comfortably use one bottle to vaccinate 12 persons.

Sri Lanka received the first consignment of 500,000 Covishield doses from Serum Institute, Pune on January 28 courtesy the government of India. The second batch also comprising 500,000 doses was received on Feb 25 in terms of an agreement between the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) of Sri Lanka and the Serum Institute of India.

Pointing out that inoculation drive commenced on January 29, the day after Sri Lanka received the first consignment, Prof. Jayasumana said that the third consignment consisting 264,000 doses was received on March 7 through the COVAX facility. Altogether, Sri Lanka received 1,264,000 Covishield doses, Prof. Jayasumana said, adding that if not for the unfortunate breakdown of supply line due to sudden eruption of Covid-19 pandemic in India, there would have been a steady supply of AstraZeneca.

According to WHO statement issued on March 7, Sri Lanka was to receive 1,440,000 doses by end of May. The WHO is on record as having said that additional doses to cover 20% of Sri Lanka’s population were to be delivered in the second half of 2021. COVAX doses are donor-funded and provided at no cost to Sri Lanka. In terms of COVAX’s commitment, Sri Lanka was to receive 8.4 million vaccine doses to cover 20% of the population, according to the WHO.

According to the Epidemiology Unit, 925,242 persons received AstraZeneca in January (59,426), February (406,924), March (453,403) and April (5,489). They received the second dose beginning April and by June 29 altogether 375,784 got the second jab. Prof. Jayasumana said that 37,026 had been given the second dose by saving on available Covishield.

The Epidemiology Unit stated that as at June 29, Sinopharm first and the second doses had been given to 1,657,741 and 605,116 persons, respectively whereas 114,795 and 14,425 received Sputnik first and second jabs.

Asked whether Sinopharm and Sputnik now used here in the inoculation drive could provide extra doses, Prof Jayasumana explained Sinopharm phial could be used for two vaccines and the Russian product for one person.

Prof. Jayasumana acknowledged that the vaccination drive had been marred by several incidents, such as the Galle incident where over 400 persons from Colombo received the jab on two days in violation of specific guidelines laid down in that regard. The matter was now before courts, Prof. Jayasumana said, adding that jumping the vaccination queue couldn’t be accepted under any circumstances.

Once Sri Lanka received the first consignment of Pfizer, probably on July 5 and Moderna much later, altogether five Covid-19 vaccines would be in use in Sri Lanka, in addition to Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, too, scheduled to have a share in the vaccine market, Prof. Jayasumana said.



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Shocking 17,500 video clips of Lankan children being sexually abused



By Norman Palihawadane

There were over 17,500 video clips of Sri Lankan children being sexually abused, on the Internet and action had been taken to arrest those responsible, Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday. The Sri Lanka Police had sought the assistance of international law enforcement agencies and the Internet service providers to track down the persons involved in uploading those video clips and child sex trafficking via internet, the SDIG said.

Crimes against children in Sri Lanka were rising at an alarming speed, the SDIG said.

The police would conduct a special awareness programme together with the National Child Protection Authority to curb the alarming trend, he said.

The first programme was held recently in Nuwara Eliya where it especially focused apprising police officers attached to that Division.

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Private buses to insist that inter-provincial commuters carry proof of vaccination?



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A limited number of Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and National Transport Commission (NTC) buses and trains would maintain limited inter- provincial operation from 01 August, State Minister of Transport, Dilum Amunugma said.

The State Minister said that certified documents issued by the respective depot superintendents and the letters of approval by the NTC were mandatory, he added.

“The buses and trains will be permitted to operate only in the morning and in the evening for office workers,” Amunugma said.

The State Minister added that passengers should behave responsibly when using the inter-provincial transport services and understand that those services were only for commuters engaged in essential services.

“The Delta variant is spreading rapidly. If one infected passenger travels in a bus, all other commuters will contract it” he warned.

The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) has decided to make proof of vaccination compulsory for inter provincial travel from 01 August

LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said they had written to the President and Transport Minister asking for permission to enforce it.

Wijeratne said that all bus operators in the Western Province should ensure they were inoculated by August 15.



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TNA Leader complains against appointing Sinhala officers to Tamil areas



By Dinasena Ratugamage

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader, R. Sampanthan had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, objecting to the appointment of Sinhala government officers to the Northern Province, former TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told journalists on Wednesday (28.)

The President and the Prime Minister are appointing officials violating democratic principles, Senathirajah said after a meeting of party activists at Karachchi Divisional Secretariat Office, Kilinochchi.

“A lot of Sinhalese are appointed to the North and the East. They must appoint Tamils. These appointments undermine our struggle for a just language policy,” he said.

Senathirajah said that it was customary to appoint Tamil officers to Tamil majority areas. However, this tradition was being violated increasingly in recent times, the former MP said.

“The TNA has nothing against Sinhala government officers. However, appointing Sinhala state officers to majority Tamil areas is a great injustice to the people. So, our leader has written to the President and the Prime Minister asking them to stop this practice,” he said.

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