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

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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.

(ECONOMYNEXT)



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Lift restrictions on 21 June, and be prepared for dire consequences – Medical Specialists

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Association of Medical Specialists (AMS) President Dr. Lakkumar Fernando yesterday urged the government to reconsider its decision to lift the travel restrictions on 21 June on account of the detection of the Indian or Delta variant of COVID-19 in the country.

Speaking to The Island yesterday, Dr. Fernando said: “The Ex-Co and COVID committee of the AMS met on Thursday before it was announced that the Indian variant had been found in the community, and we decided to ask the government to continue the travel restrictions until 28 June.”

The AMS President added that the detection of the Indian variant from Dematagoda was an alarming development as the Indian variant was more transmissible than the UK variant.

“Reopening the country even after this detection is a very bad idea. We detected the UK variant on 08 April 2021 but we allowed people to celebrate the New Year. I feel that the government is repeating the same mistake,” he said.

Dr. Fernando urged the government to have discussions with a broad section of experts in the coming two days and take a more informed decision as we are likely lose more valuable lives if we are not careful enough in our decision making. “I don’t think the government has sought advice from experts,” he said.

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SLPP will not let disputes with Gammanpila undermine govt.

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…will vote against SJB’s no-faith motion

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) yesterday (18) said that whatever the differences the party had with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader and Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila, it would not undermine President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government. A senior SLPP spokesperson said so when The Island sought their response to Samagi Jana Balavegaya planning to move a no-faith motion against attorney-at-law Gammanpila over the recent increase in prices of fuel.

The SJB early this week declared its intention to hand over a no-faith motion against Gammanpila to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena. Already, the JVP and the UNP have questioned the SJB’s exercise.

The SLPP stood solidly with the stand taken by its General Secretary attorney-at-law Sagara Kariyawasam, MP, in respect of Minister Gammanpila, the official said. According to him, SJB’s certain defeat at the forthcoming vote should not be considered an endorsement of the energy minister.

However, the SJB would not be allowed to exploit the dispute between the party and Minister Gammanpila, under any circumstances, party sources said. The SLPP has been in touch with SLPP strategist Basil Rajapaksa, currently in the US, throughout the conflict, sources said.

The SJB’s no-faith motion would be easily defeated, sources said, pointing out that the SLPP group in the government parliamentary group accounted for 115 excluding the Speaker. The SJB parliamentary group comprised 54 members, including seven National List appointees. One of the NL members, Diana Gamage has switched her allegiance to the SLPP.

Sources revealed that on behalf of the SLPP group, the General Secretary of the party, lawmaker Kariyawasam discussed the developments with SLPP leader Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The SLPP group is expected to meet coming Monday (21) to reach consensus on a settlement. Sources said that a no holds barred discussion was with MP Kariyawasam getting an opportunity to explain his stand.

Referring to a statement dated June 12 issued by MP Kariyawasam demanding Minister Gammanpila’s resignation, SLPP underscored the need to set the record straight.

The SLPP General Secretary did not challenge the fuel increase announced by Minister Gammanpila as the party realized the government had no other option, sources said. However, there was no change in the SLPP’s stand in respect of Minister Gammanpila as he did nothing to improve the energy sector coming under his purview, sources said. The SLPP alleged that Minister Gammanpila had done nothing except taking advantage of gullible media.

Responding to another query, sources questioned the rationale in a recent statement issued by eight political parties, affiliated to the SLPP, in support of Minister Gammanpila. Except one political party therein, other parties comprised just one lawmaker each. There were two National List members, too among that eight-member group, sources said, adding that PHU, was represented in parliament by just one MP (Gammanpila.)

Sources said that the SLPP felt that there should be a consensus among the main party and its constituents on major policy decisions. Sources questioned the National Freedom Front (NFF) and the PHU pursuing an agenda inimical to the government. How could they take a different stand on some contentious issues publicly having been members of the cabinet of ministers, sources asked, accusing them of sabotaging key policy decisions.

The SLPP emphasized that the ruling coalition would have to reach a consensus on a common agenda or face catastrophic consequences.

Sources alleged that Weerawansa-Gammanpila led group sabotaged an agreement the incumbent administration worked out with India on the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo Harbour.

Asked to explain, sources said that the previous Sirisena-Wickremesinghe had finalized agreements in respect of Mattala airport, ECT, remaining tanks at the Trincomnalee oil tank farm and LNG plant at Sampur with India. Following the last presidential election, the incumbent government decided to go ahead with only the ECT project in the Colombo South Harbour.

The SLPP said that the agreement on ECT was certainly not a popular one though it could have helped efforts to revive the national economy. But, Weerawansa-Gammanpila group as usual played politics with the issue at hand and took credit for stopping the project.

Sources said that the country would have faced eternal blackouts if the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa gave into pressure meant to stop Norochcholai coal-fired power plant.

 

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1,390 more lockdown violators arrested

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The police had arrested 1,390 persons who violated lockdown regulations on Thursday (17), Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said. The bulk of the arrests numbering 172 were made by the Kuliyapitiya Police, 133 by Matale Police and 121 by Kandy Police.

The police have arrested 38,311 people so far for violating quarantine regulations since 30 October 2020.

About 6,797 people were questioned at checkpoints set up at 14 entry and exit points in the Western Province on Thursday and 108 of them were warned and sent back for attempting to cross provincial borders in violation of the current travel restrictions.

Meanwhile, the Police are planning to carry out a special operation during this weekend to arrest those who violate health regulations by increasing mobile patrols, roadblocks and motorcycle patrols, DIG Rohana added.

Drone operations too will be conducted in Colombo and suburban areas to identify individuals who violate lockdown rules and regulations.

 

 

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