Lalith Weeratunga, Senior Advisor to the President, said Wednesday that approval has been given to Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine by the Sri Lanka National Drug Regulatory Authority and Sri Lanka will receive the Sputnik V vaccine in near future.
Weeratunga was addressing a special media briefing organized by the Ministry of Mass Media at the Media Development Center for social media activists.
This media briefing is significant as it is the first program which was held to publicize the development facts and progress of the National Policy Framework “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour”.
Mr. Weeratunga mentioned that the Sri Lanka President has requested Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine from the Russian President and accordingly, Sri Lanka will receive the first batch of the said vaccine as a donation.
Meanwhile, Major General Sanjeewa Munasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Health asserted that 264,000 vaccines that were received last Sunday under the COVAX facility will be given to individuals aged 60 and above in the high-risk areas of Colombo and Gampaha districts this weekend.
He further added that, according to the world priority list, people aged 60 and above are in the third place, but only 9.1% of those over 60 in Sri Lanka have been infected.
Although the mortality rate of people aged 60 and above in Sri Lanka is high, the age group most prone to contracting the disease and spreading the disease to others is the age group of 30-60 years which contributes directly to the economy of the country. Therefore, considering the said issue, the Secretary to the Ministry of Health said that the next priority was given to the individuals aged 30-60.
Moreover, he said that among those groups, areas with the highest prevalence of the disease were identified in the Colombo and Gampaha districts and more priority was given to the people in those areas. He said that about 743,000 people have already been vaccinated with the first dose, which is more than 4% of the population who should be vaccinated.
The government will provide free transport facilities for the elderly who do not have transport facilities to attend the vaccination program in the relevant areas.
In addition, the Secretary highlighted that the vaccine is given only by the Government and once Sri Lanka receives the Sputnik vaccine, the authorities are expecting to extend the vaccination process to other districts.
Addressing the media briefing, Consultant Epidemiologist, Dr. Samitha Ginige said no adverse side effects have been reported so far from the vaccine.
He stated that any vaccine can cause certain side effects and that a lot of research has been done before vaccination and that all the research findings have confirmed that this the vaccine does not cause any fatal side effects.
Weeratunga further added that so far, no serious cases of allergies have been reported in our country except for a few allergies. He also said that minor side effects such as fever, body aches and loss of appetite after receiving the vaccine can emerge due to the body’s reaction to the vaccine.