Sri Lanka on Thursday received 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines ordered from India.
"Actively aiding #lka win against COVID, 2nd consignment of 500,000 COVISHIELD vaccines arrived from #India to #lka today," the High Commission of India in Sri Lanka tweeted.
Sri Lanka's acting health minister Channa Jayasumana said 500,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine arrived on Thursday. He said the new batch was ordered under an agreement between the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) of Sri Lanka and the Serum Institute of India.
The distribution of vaccines will start on Friday.
India gifted 500,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine which kicked off Sri Lanka's vaccine rollout in late January. The vaccines were given to the frontline workers and the security personnel.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The government has placed an order for 10 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India at a cost of USD 52.5 million and a further 3.5 million doses directly from AstraZeneca Institute of UK under the COVAX programme.
Health officials here said the next batch of the Indian order would be coming in March.
Ramesh Pathirana, who is also the Minister of Plantations, earlier said Sri Lanka is likely to go only with the AstraZeneca vaccines for the second phase of vaccination as the Chinese and Russian vaccines are not ready yet.
Last month, India announced it will send COVID-19 vaccines under grant assistance to Sri Lanka and seven other countries - Bhutan, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles, Afghanistan and Mauritius.India is one of the world's biggest drug-makers and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring coronavirus vaccines.Sri Lanka has recorded more than 80,500 coronavirus cases so far with 450 deaths.