Sri Lanka receives 1M doses of Sinopharm vaccine

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka has received one million doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccines amid the island nation’s recent surge in infections and COVID-19 vaccine shortage.

Sunday’s is the largest consignment of vaccines to be received by Sri Lanka on a single occasion.

State Minister of Pharmaceutical Production, Supply and Regulation Channa Jayasumana said the latest consignment was purchased by the State Pharmaceutical Corporation and that will be mainly used to provide second doses.

Sri Lanka began administering first doses on May 8. Authorities plan to start giving the second dose June 8.

Sri Lanka’s vaccine shortage comes after the producer in neighboring India failed to provide the promised Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine stocks. Last month, Sri Lanka decided to buy 14 million doses of Sinopharm in a bid to resolve the vaccine crisis. Sri Lanka had previously received a total of 1.1 million doses of Sinopharm vaccine, donated by China in two batches in March and May.

The current vaccination program is focused on Sri Lanka’s Western province, which includes the capital of Colombo and its suburbs from where the majority of the country’s coronavirus cases have been detected.

Sri Lanka has seen a sharp increase of positive cases and deaths since April because of celebrations during the traditional new year festival.

Sri Lanka’s total number of positive cases have reached 202,357 with 1,696 fatalities.