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Sri Lanka to acquire 2mn Sinopharm doses in June, 400,000 Sputnik V in July



Sri Lanka will receive two million doses of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine in June, with 400,000 more doses of the Russian Sputnik V expected next month, officials said.

The Sinopharm manufacturer in China has agreed to send a million doses on June 6 followed by another million three days later, State Minister Channa Jayasumana said in an interview by the government information department on June 2.

Sri Lanka has received 1.1 million doses of Sinopharm so far as donations from the Chinese government.

Sri Lanka has made agreements to purchase 13 million doses of the Chinese vaccine by end 2021, the minister said.

The first dose of Sinopharm has been administered to 797,205 Sri Lankans as of June 1, official data shows.

Sri Lanka has also received 65,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine so far and, according to Jayasumana, authorities are expecting a reply from Russia regarding the next consignment by June 3.

Sri Lanka expects to purchase 14 million doses of the Russian vaccine as well by end 2021. Health authorities have administrated first dose to 44,189 as of June 1.

The US-based Pfizer Inc too have agreed to provide five million doses of the Pfizer-BionTech vaccine this year, with a consignment of 300,000 to 400,000 expected to arrive in July, he said.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) approved the other China-manufactured COVID-19 vaccine Sinovac for emergency use on June 1. Following the announcement, Jayasumana said, Sri Lanka can expect Sinovac to be administered in Sri Lanka as well over in a few weeks’ time.

Sri Lanka has come to an agreement with the manufacturer and is also considering producing the vaccine in the country, he said.

Sri Lanka is also looking to purchase the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and discussions have been held with the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson in this regard, the minister said.

According to Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, the J&J vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. This means it uses a virus – in this case, a version of an adenoviruses – which causes mild cold or flu symptoms in people. The company has modified this virus to include DNA that codes for the spike protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This spike protein is one of the virus’ identifying features for immune cells, and what the virus uses to weasel its way into our cells.

The adenovirus works its way into cells like a virus normally would, but then injects the genetic material for the spike protein instead. Cells read that DNA to make copies of the spike protein, which then trigger an immune reaction.

In a trial with 43,783 participants across the US, Latin America, and South Africa, the vaccine prevented about 66% of Covid-19 cases. The company found evidence of some immunity in participants two weeks after they got the shot, which appeared to strengthen over time. It also protected against 85% of moderate-to-severe COVID-19 cases – the kinds that would lead someone to seek medical attention – and has so far presented complete protection from death due to COVID-19, international reports noted.

The US government has already ordered 100 million doses of Janssen’s vaccine, the reports said.

Jayasumana said vaccine producers have only agreed to deal with state regulatory bodies and will not come into any agreement with the private sector entities.

“No one can purchase the vaccine from anywhere. Only the State Pharmaceutical Corporation in Sri Lanka has the authority to deal with vaccine manufacturers,” he said, in response to allegations that several requests by the private sector to import vaccines have been turned down.

However, the minister said, the SPC has held discussions with several organisations who presented themselves as vaccine providers.

“Some of these companies were container operation businesses, or were in the logistics business or some other business. They have been producing the vaccine for the black market,” said Jayasumana.

“They were not even able to provide the vaccine’s details,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is still on the lookout for some 600,000 more doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered as the second dose.

However, with the Covid 19 cases rising in India, Indian government imposed restrictions on the Serum Institute of India (SII) on exporting vaccines.

“We were in an agreement with SII and they said they will provide the vaccines on specific days,” said Jayasumana.

“However, with the condition worsening in India we decided to take a precautionary step and stop giving the first dose after giving it to 925,242,” he added.


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DG Information ignorant of basic election laws and regulations: ECSL




The Election Commission (EC) has expressed its disappointment at controversial statements made by some public officials about elections. It says some top government official, including the Director General of Government Information, are not familiar with the basic election laws and regulations laid down in the Constitution.

The EC says it may be due to his ignorance that the Director General of Government Information has issued the Special News Release, on 29 January, claiming that ‘the gazette notification, with the signatures of the Chairman, and other members of the Election Commission, required for the commencement of the Local Government Election process, has not yet been sent to the Government Press for printing’. The EC has said such notices have to be signed and sent by the relevant Returning Officers in accordance with section 38 of the Local Authorities Election (Amendment Act) No 16 of 2017, and not by the members of the EC.

The EC has confirmed that the notices from the Returning Officers were sent to the Government Press on Monday (30).

The EC’s Media release also points out that the DGI may be unaware that Article 104GG of the Constitution states that if any public official refuses or fails without a reasonable cause to comply with the Commission he or she has committed an offence.

Article 104GG of the Constitution says: (1) Any public officer, any employee of any public corporation, business or other undertaking vested in the Government under any other written law and any company registered or deemed to be registered under the Companies Act, No. 7 of 2007, in which the Government or any public corporation or local authority holds fifty percent or more of the shares of that company, who – (a) refuses or fails without a reasonable cause to cooperate with the Commission, to secure the enforcement of any law relating to the holding of an election or the conduct of a Referendum; or (b) fails without a reasonable cause to comply with any directions or guidelines issued by the Commission under sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (4) or sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (5), respectively, of Article 104B, shall be guilty of an offense and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand rupees or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both such fine and imprisonment.”

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AKD says no improvement at Sapugaskanda oil refinery since it went into production in 1969



The capacity of the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery (SOR) has not increased since it was established in 1969, National People’s Power (NPP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake says.

Speaking at a public rally recently he that in 1969, the SOR used the most advanced technology available at the time.

“CPC started construction in 1968 and SOR started operations, refining oil, on August 5th, 1969. During that time, the CPC could refine 50,000 MT of crude oil. 55 years later, the capacity remains the same. In 1969, the CPC started with the most advanced technology available at the time. Technology has improved now. We are still refining oil with 1969 technology,” he said.

Dissanayake said that Sri Lanka built a fertiliser factory to use the byproducts of the refinery and, in 1982, a newspaper reported that 5000 MT of urea, produced by that factory, was exported to Pakistan. Today, that factory is closed.

“The CPC also had a nylon factory, as a subsidiary. We built our own nylon thread fish nets. By-products of the refinery were used as pesticides and insecticides for our pineapple and flower production. Those factories were closed, too. We had a candle industry from the by-products, we produced lubricant oil. It was sold to American Caltex. Refinery produced fuel for airplanes. It has the capacity to sell USD 1.4 million worth airplane fuel per day. We can buy crude oil, refine, and sell to ships. These are opportunities we must use to earn foreign currency. Recently this section of the CPC was privatized,” he said.

The ruling class has failed to secure even the most important assets, he said. Agriculture, land, gems, ilmenite, our natural resources, so will these rulers protect what is left, he asked.

“They have absolutely no plan to build this country. Selling our resources, closing down factories and selling valuable machinery is what they know. Every government has taken part in the destruction of the refinery. This is why we need a change in the economy. We need to transform our economy. Only NPP can do that,” he said.

The NPP leader said that the existing constitution concentrates too much power in the hands of the executive president. Sri Lanka has had this executive presidential system for 40 years and executive power was used against the people, repressing them.

“Our economy was destroyed. It has done no good to this country. One man cannot develop the country. Individuals have capacities and limitations. We need to unite our capabilities to govern this country. It’s a collective effort and the NPP is the only party to undertake it. That’s the point of difference. There are talented people from all fields like history, economy, mathematics, law and so on. There are lawyers, university academics and professionals. The government has to unite these capacities and talents to bring optimum results for the country. NPP will do that. For that we have to abolish executive presidency and rewrite the constitution vesting more powers in the Parliament. We will bring about this change,” he said.

Dissanayake said an NPP administration will limit the number of Ministers to 18. He added that crossovers have distorted the democratic system and corrupted the political culture.

“People vote for them in one party but for money and positions they change political allegiance. This has become a public nuisance. Some MPs demand ransom to stay in the party. We will add a provision to the Constitution to ban crossing over,” he said.

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JVP: Where are President’s influential foreign friends?



By Rathindra Kuruwita 

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who assumed duties, claiming that he had very influential friends overseas, now claims he can hardly afford to pay government servants, National People’s Power (NPP) MP Vijitha Herath says.

“If anything, things are worse than before. The government is afraid of the people and is trying to postpone elections,” Herath said, adding that the March 09 local council election would mark the beginning of the end for the Ranil-Rajapaksa administration.

Herath said so addressing an NPP election rally recently.

 “They will no longer be able to pretend that the people are with them. Not that they have any legitimacy, locally or internationally, but the level of their unpopularity will be seen on 10 March,, when the poll results are announced” he said.

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