Sri Lanka to begin provincial rollout of COVID-19 vaccine
By Wednesday night, some 1,461,696 people out of the 21 million population on the island had received their first jab, while 343,976 had received their second
Sri Lanka would begin the provincial rollout of its COVID-19 vaccination programme on Thursday with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, a top official heading the country's pandemic response said.
Shavendra Silva, the Army chief and the head of the COVID-19 prevention operations, said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday received the latest consignment of 600,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines from China.
“Today (Thursday) the vaccination programme would begin in Kurunegala, Galle and Matara,” Silva said.
The northwestern and southern provincial towns are the first outside the western province to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
By Wednesday night, some 1,461,696 people out of the 21 million population on the island had received their first jab, while 343,976 had received their second.
Sri Lanka rolled out its vaccination programme with India's gift of 500,000 doses of Covishield in January. However, the second jab of the vaccine is currently on hold due to the delay of supplies from India’s Serum Institute.
Later, Sri Lanka received a gift of China's Sinopharm and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines.
Silva added that the vaccination programme is currently being expedited given the fast-spreading third wave of the pandemic in the country.
He said that since mid-April there have been over 70,000 new infections.
Sri Lanka’s tally of infections as of Wednesday stood at 172,277, while the number of deaths reached 1,298.
The country is currently observing inter-provincial travel restrictions in its effort to contain the new surge.