63% of country’s population to be vaccinated within this year: Health Minister!!


Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi today assured that the Government will be able to vaccinate 63 per cent of the population against COVID-19 within this year.

She told Parliament that it was earlier estimated to vaccinate 60 per cent of the population and said the government had already ordered the required vaccination doses to meet the target.

“We have ordered 13 million of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine of which 15,000 have already arrived in the country. The balance will be received within this year in stages. In addition, We will receive 8.4 million of vaccine doses under the COVAX facility. We are to receive five million Pfizer vaccines within this year. We have 600,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine in Sri Lanka. China has agreed to provide us with more doses of Sinopharm vaccine, soon after WHO grants its approval,” she said.

Responding to claims that Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine had not been approved by the WHO, she said according to WHO guidelines, a vaccine can be used if it was approved by two stringent regulatory authorities and the stringent regulatory authority of the country where the vaccine is used. “Sputnik V is approved by two stringent regulatory authorities and National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) in Sri Lanka,” she said.

The Minister also said the Government was in discussion with India's Bharat Biotech and Johnson & Johnson to purchase more vaccines.

Explaining the measures taken by the Government to face the third wave, she said steps have been taken to increase the bed capacity and to meet the increasing demand for Oxygen cylinders.

Minister Wanniarachchi said 13,800 beds have been allocated to treat COVID patients and added that 10,000 additional beds would be allocated during the next two weeks.

“The requirement for Oxygen in our hospitals is 25 tons. It can be increased upto 80 tons. The issue is the shortage of cylinders. We have 24,000 cylinders and 4,000 jumbo cylinders at present. We have ordered 7,000 more jumbo cylinders of which 400 is to be receive within this week. There are 104 ICU beds and 64 HDU (High Dependency Unit) beds allocated for the COVID patients. A total of 56 ICU beds are occupied at the moment. We have arranged for 138 additional ICU beds and 56 High Dependency beds,” she said.

The Minister said 315 high- flow Oxygen machines, 875 ventilators, 400 transport ventilators and 200 portable ventilators were available to be used for the COVID patients right now and added that 175 more high- flow Oxygen machines have been ordered. 

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