U.S. donates over 1.5 million Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to Sri Lanka

The U.S. has donated over 1.5 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Sri Lanka. These vaccines, delivered through COVAX, will save lives and increase COVID-19 vaccination coverage essential to ending the pandemic.  

"These vaccines are given at no cost to the Government of Sri Lanka as part of America's commitment to ending the global pandemic and our enduring partnership with the people of Sri Lanka.  They will help Sri Lankans get back to work and to stay healthy, a gift we make in reflection of the long-standing friendship between the United States and Sri Lanka," said Alaina Teplitz, the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. "Our partnership with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health, UNICEF, and other global COVAX partners to deliver these vaccines is critical to controlling the pandemic, slowing the emergence of new variants, and helping to restart the global economy."

Dr Samantha Ananda – the Spokesperson of the Government Medical Officer's Association (GMOA) said:

"The World Health Organization (WHO) has taken certain steps regarding countries such as Sri Lanka to provide COVID -19 vaccination. In fact, Sri Lanka does not have the financial and political capability to be competitive with Developed countries in purchasing the vaccine. Since our country's state is such, we have to cordially deal with friendly countries and the world Health Organization (WHO) to obtain the Vaccines. It is vehemently unacceptable to purchase vaccines when we are receiving it free of charge. We have not yet received any official reports on the true facts of the above situation. In fact, the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) has a mechanism in purchasing such vaccinations and a procedure to be followed in purchasing the vaccines. It is not proper and it should be investigated by the Health Ministry that why we should purchase Sino pharm from China when we are to receive AstraZeneca or other vaccines free of charge. It is of utmost important for the GoSL to purchase the vaccines and safeguard the masses if we are not receiving the vaccines free."

Dr. Vaasan the Board Member of the Government Medical Officer's Association (GMOA) Said:

"Whatever the vaccines might be, the masses should administer and protect themselves. In an emergency situation where the Emergency Use Listing (EUL) has been approved. Although, certain countries on friendly ties offered us free vaccination and while certain vaccinations had to be purchased at a stipulated price. In the beginning, India donated 500,000 Covishield Vaccines. Also, the Chinese Government donated 600,000 Sino pharm vaccines. Currently, the Moderna Vaccines have also been donated the United States Government free of charge. When we consider these matters, the general public should make sure to vaccinate themselves, but we might not be able to vaccinate the whole population with the received free vaccinations. So, the GoSL has appointed a committee that regulates and monitors the quality, quantity, and prices of the vaccinations to be purchased. And the whole responsibility lies on the above committee." 

Deputy Chairperson of the World Health Organization (WHO), Former WHO Asia Pacific Regional President, and Former Health Minister of Sri Lanka Dr. Rajitha Senarathne (Member of Parliament) said:

"United States distributed their excess vaccinations to other countries in the world. They have promised to distribute Seven Million vaccinations to 15 countries in the Asian region and around 500.000 vaccines per country, and we also should be receiving the same. If our Government had maintained a cordial relationship with the United States and European Countries, we would have received vaccinations such as AstraZeneca, etc… from them instead of purchasing from China secondly, why the World Health Organization (WHO) are in reluctance to provide the vaccines, since, our Covid-19 curb operations are being militarized and run by the Army. The WHO is not much interested in this militarization of Health sector in the island, since not only the WHO, but many other countries are of the same view. It would have been much easier to obtain the vaccinations willingly if these Covid-19 curb operations would have been run by a civil organization, and by now the whole country would have been totally vaccinated. Many anomalies were procured in the vaccination process since we were heavily dependent only on China. Now the Government is planning to bring down the Sinovac, and state that they are manufacturing it here, but only it is a process of "Bottling Plant". While I was as the Health Minister, many local Pharmaceutical manufacturing companies were initiated. But, ever since, this Government took into power not a single such Pharmaceutical company have been initiated. Now, they are planning to do so, bottling the Sinovac under the garb of manufacturing, although Sinovac has efficacy of less than 50%. It is very unsafe and not stable on the part of the public health to bring down such a "Low Efficacy vaccine" investing a large amount for a vaccination such as Sivovac."

Dr. Samantha Ananda – the Spokesperson of the Government Medical Officer's Association (GMOA) said:

"Certain anomalies were reported in purchasing the vaccines; based on those allegations, we submitted a report to the Presidential Commission. The Presidential Commission has affirmed and confirmed the misappropriations and allegations of the above. Although they were advised to go to courts and seek legal action, until today, no steps have been taken since political parties interferences. We do not understand why after all information and strict advice from the Presidential Commission, yet no action has been taken. Since the situation is such, we cannot assure that in future as well such incidents and mismanagements could take place and we are grieved, since public funds are being utilized for this flop."

Dr. Vaasan the Board Member of the Government Medical Officer's Association (GMOA) said:

"At such a stance, we should make sure to form cordial relationship with other countries and to be able to vaccinate the whole population as soon as possible. We could gradually open up the country due to the above strategy and positively grow the economy. Although, being vaccinated there is a doubt looming weather it is sufficient to curb the situation, unless the general public who have been vaccinated, who are yet to be vaccinated, who are not vaccinated follow strict adherence to the health regulations which are to be followed. Globally, new trends of the Covid-19 has been a great emerging threat. Thus, it is advisable to adhere to safety precautions strictly. Eventually, we will be on a safer stance if we practice the above health safety regulations."

Dr. Rajitha Senarathne said:

"All the vaccines which are being used around the globe has a stipulated efficacy percentage. I have with me all the documents which indicate the efficacy of such vaccinations. E.g. BioNTech Pfizer which were administered within the last few days in Sri Lanka has an efficacy of 95% and that is the vaccine with the highest efficacy. Nextly, Moderna Vaccine which is of the same company has an efficacy of 9 4.01% which is quiet powerful. Then the AstraZeneca – which possess the efficacy of 82%. Then the Sinopharm which has an efficacy of 79%, and then the Sinovac which is to be brought down to Sri Lanka has an efficacy of only 50%. Then we have the Novavax vaccine, which has an efficacy of 89%, and the Bharat Biotech vaccine, which has not yet been finalized its efficacy in its experiments, which is being used in India. These are all the vaccines which are in use. Vaccines which are being manufactured in United States of America and in European Countries are quiet powerful in its efficacy. The Sinopharm of China has an efficacy of 79% and we can accept that up to a certain extend. But, when we look into the Sinovac, its efficacy is only 50%, which means if 100 individuals were injected only 50 individuals could have resistance and the rest 50 individuals will not have resistance and are on the fence. Thus, we cannot recommend it as an efficient and a potent vaccination."

Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Hon. Pavithra Wanniarachchi stated:

"As a donation from the American Government, we have received 1.5 million dosages of Moderna Vaccines. We are grateful for the American Government for complying and donating us this on the request of the Sri Lankan government. We also convey our gratitude to all those who are involved. By the intervention of the President of Sri Lanka His Excellency Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, our Sri Lankans are able to obtain access to all sorts of Covid-19 vaccinations which are available around the world. We are optimistic that within the next two-three months, we will be able to vaccinate the whole country."

Source: -A24 News