by Ifham Nizam
Majority of university students have turned down getting COVID-19 vaccination as they preferred to get Pfizer vaccines rather than Chinese vaccines, university sources said.
The University Grants Commission made arrangements that university students to get their vaccines at the nearest university premises until Friday (15).
However, according to the health authorities, the turnout of the university students at the vaccination centres are not up to the expectations. They said that there was low youth turnout at COVID-19 vaccination centres at universities with students saying that they would forego campus-administered jab in favour of the Pfizer vaccine.
Deputy Director General of Health Services Dr. Hemantha Herath said that it was important that students are vaccinated before academic activity resumes in state universities. He said that the turnout had been slightly low because of students being choosy. “It has to be said that we are getting a limited number of vaccines like Pfizer which the youth prefer to have,” he said.
Vaccinating students, academic and non-academic staff aged 20 to 29 commenced on last Monday (11) at all government universities and continued till Friday. Vaccination centres had been established in university premises in all universities and university affiliates, the University Grants Commission said.
Professor of Community Health at the Medical Faculty of the University of Colombo, Manju Weerasinghe said that there had been some myths about vaccines in social media. He urged the youth not to listen to baseless opinions expressed by certain persons with commercial interests, and take the vaccines against the COVID-19 pandemic at the first available opportunity.
Prof Weerasinghe said that there was no scientific basis to the statements made by certain persons that sexual impotence and infertility are caused in the human body due to the vaccine. He urged the youth not to fall prey to such false opinions and act wisely, protect themselves and the country as well.
UNP Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardene said that the youth were reluctant to get vaccinated against COVID-19 because the government had bungled the process of administering them.
Wijewardene said that less than 40 percent of youth between 20 and 29 years of age had obtained at least a single dose of the anti-Covid vaccine. “They delay getting the vaccines because the government has not provided them with the vaccines that they prefer. For example, university students have been asked to visit the Army Hospital in Colombo to receive Moderna vaccine. When they went there they found that instead of Moderna the troops were ready to administer a Chinese vaccine. So they turned back rejecting the Chinese vaccine,” Wijewardene said.
Instead of blaming the youth, the government should understand their concerns. “Some youth are under the impression that the vaccine and its effects are for life time. So, they prefer Moderna and Pfizer saying that the European countries would give visas only to those who have obtained those brands of vaccine. A large number of youth are planning to go abroad and their concerns are reasonable. They think that obtaining another brand, including those produced in China, would deprive them of their chance to leave the country for higher education or job opportunities. The problem is becoming worse because a large number of youth are refusing to get the vaccine. Their demand is that they should receive the vaccine of their choice,” Wijewardene said.
The UNP Deputy Leader said that there was no other government in the entire history that had let the youth down so much. “Youth have become so frustrated. They are frustrated because they cannot see any progressive future for them in this country. The government is in a forex crisis and has started selling off national assets to collect dollars. There are shortages of milk-powder, gas, rice and sugar. Rice millers are planning to give up their trade. Schools and universities are shut down. In the face of this crisis, could anyone expect youth to decide to stay in this country for the rest of their lives? Hundreds of thousands of youth are planning to leave the country after the government reopens it. Many would go through legal routes while others will chose any method feasible for them,” Wijewardene said.
Keheliya turns down request for abolishing price control on medicine
Industry leader has sought court intervention
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella yesterday (17) said that in spite of difficulties caused by the foreign currency crisis price control on imported medicines couldn’t be done away with.
Abolition of price control on drugs would heap an enormous burden on the vast majority of people, Minister Rambukwella said.
Lawmaker Rambukwella said so when The Island sought his response to the Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (SLCPI) requesting the government to do away with price control. Claiming that the grouping imported over 80 percent of medicines into the country, the SLCPI recently warned of possible collapse of the industry unless remedial measures were taken swiftly.
Minister Rambukwella said that recently he met an SLCPI delegation at their request to discuss issues at hand. “Of course, I understand the difficulties experienced by all sectors, including the pharmaceutical trade. However, price control as regards medicine cannot be done away with,” Minister Rambukwella said.
The SLCPI has pointed out to the Minister that at the moment medicines were the only commodity under price control in the local market. The Health Minister asserted that it wouldn’t be fair to compare the medicine with other commodities.
Minister Rambukwella said that regardless of constrains, the government was trying to ensure uninterrupted supply of medicine and it wouldn’t be fair to do at this juncture.
In a statement sent to the media SLCPI asserted: “There is no solution to this dilemma than removing the price control of medicines and implement a fair and equitable pricing mechanism which will link the price of medicines to the dollar, inflation and direct costs such as raw material, fuel and freight charges, which will then make importing and marketing of medicines viable. As difficult as it may sound, the authorities will have to choose between having medicines at a cost and not having medicines at all.”
The SLCPI has already sought the intervention of the courts to establish what the grouping called a transparent pricing mechanism outside government price control.
Recently, Minister Rambukwella, at a meeting also attended by State Minister Dr. Channa Jayasumana called for a report on the requirement of medicines over the next six months. The Health Ministry declared that there was no shortage of drugs whereas SLCPI claimed some drugs were in short supply and the situation could get worse.
Central Expressway: Rs 3 mn raked in within 12 hours
Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said yesterday that about three million rupees had been earned by way of toll within the first 12 hours of the opening of the second phase of the Central Expressway.
Rs 2,805,100.00 had been paid by the expressway users during the first 12 hours from 12 noon to midnight Sunday (16) after its opening by the President and the Prime Minister on Saturday (15).
The Minister said that during the first 12 hours of the period of toll collection, a total of 13,583 vehicles had traversed the most scenic road stretch in the country between Mirigama and Kurunegala. No traffic accidents had been reported during the 12 hour period.
Minister Fernando said that the newly opened road had been allowed to be used by the public free of charge for 12 hours from midnight Saturday (15) to Sunday (16) noon.
President to inaugurate second session of Ninth Parliament today
by Saman Indrajith
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is scheduled to commence the second session of the Ninth Parliament today at 10 am with his third Presidential policy statement (formerly Throne Speech).
He made his first ‘Throne Speech’ on Jan 3, 2020, opening the Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament and the second on Aug 20, 2020 to open the First Session of the Ninth Parliament.
Secretary General of Parliament, Dhammika Dasanayake said that MPs have been requested to arrive at the parliamentary complex at 9.25 am the latest.
The MPs, if accompanied by their spouses will alight from their vehicles at the Staff Entrance of the parliamentary building, while all other MPs are requested to drive up to the Members’ Entrance.
To facilitate orderly arrival, the MPs are requested that the Car Label provided them with be pasted on the inside top left-hand corner of the windscreen of their vehicles. On arrival at Parliament, Members’ vehicles would be directed by the Police to the appropriate Car Park.
Thereafter the MPs are requested to enter the lobbies of Parliament and to remain there until the Quorum Bells are rung.
President Rajapaksa is scheduled to arrive at the Main Steps of the Parliament Building at 9.40 a.m. and he would be received by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and the Secretary-General of Parliament.
The President will be escorted by them to the Parliament Building. Thereafter, the Speaker and the Secretary-General of Parliament will escort the President to his Chambers.
At 9.55 a.m. the Quorum Bells will be rung for five minutes and all Members will take their seats in the Chamber of Parliament.
The President’s procession will leave for the Chamber of Parliament and will enter the Chamber at 10.00 am. On entering the Chamber the President’s arrival will be announced whereupon all Members will stand in their places until the President reaches the Chair and requests the Members to be seated.
Thereafter, the Proclamation proroguing the Parliament and Summoning the Meeting of Parliament will be read by the Secretary General of Parliament. Then, the President will address Parliament.
After his policy statement the President will adjourn the House until 1.00 p.m. on Wednesday (19).
Thereafter, the President will leave the Chamber escorted by the Speaker and the Secretary-General of Parliament.
Keheliya turns down request for abolishing price control on medicine
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