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Sri Lanka looking to purchase vaccine straight from AstraZeneca Plc

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Sri Lanka is looking to purchase the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 directly from AstraZeneca Plc to meet the country’s vaccine demand, the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) said.

SPC General Manager Dinusha Dassanayaka said that a draft agreement has been requested from the British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company to this end.

“Due to global demands, we are unable to get enough supply for the domestic demand from just one supplier. We were exploring possibilities to acquire more vaccines even before the issues with the Serum Institute of India (SII) arose,” he said.

On March 24, the Indian government imposed export restrictions on the SII-manufactured AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine in order to meet growing domestic demand in India due to a recent rise in cases.

“We have now requested the required documents from AstraZeneca UK to carry the process forward,” Dassanayaka said.

The SPC had previously made a purchase order for 10 million doses of the Covishield vaccine from the Serum Institute. However, according to Dassanayake, SII informed SPC that the delivery would be delayed due to a fire that erupted at an SII facility.

“When we enquired about the initial requirement of 10 million, we were informed that the delivery schedule will be confirmed by April for the complete purchase order. But with the new situation we don’t know which direction it will take,” he said.

The SPC general manager further said that, in the wake of the Indian government’s decision, SII had informed the SPC that the company is compelled to follow the directive.

However, State Minister Channa Jayasumana told reporters that Sri Lanka is looking for a diplomatic intervention with the Indian government to bring down the vaccine.

“Discussions are ongoing with the Indian government and we will be able to bring in another batch of 500,000 of Covishield to the country as was initially confirmed by the SII,” Jayasumana said.

Meanwhile, discussions are also under way with Russian authorities about purchasing the Sputnik V vaccine, with a draft agreement already sent.

The Cabinet of Ministers gave approved a proposal this week to purchase seven million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine for 69.65 million US dollars.

Dassanayaka further said the SPC is also looking to import the Johnson & Johnson vaccine manufactured in the US if the National Medical Regulatory Authority (NMRA) approves it for emergency use in Sri Lanka.

“No final decision has been reached or price negotiation has been done thus far. We will proceed if we get NMRA approval,” he said.

(ECONOMYNEXT)

 

 



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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