Russia has expressed its willingness to allow Sri Lanka to produce its own Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V locally if the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) authorises it for local use, a senior state official said. The Sputnik V vaccine is already being manufactured in India and those two countries signed agreements last year to produce 300 million doses of the Russian vaccine in Indian laboratories.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has authorised the use of the Chinese and Russian drugs that have shown high efficacy levels but the NMRA is yet to approve the two vaccines for either emergency or regular use, the official said.
The Indian manufactured Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was given the green light for emergency use by the NMRA and the first consignment of 500,000 doses, arrived in the country on Thursday as a grant from the Indian Government.
The Chinese Government has also expressed its readiness to provide 300,000 doses of its vaccine Sinopharm free to Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to China Dr. Palitha Kohona told the Sunday Observer. “As soon as the approval is given the vaccine can be shipped to Sri Lanka,” he said.
However, the Russian Government has not indicated any vaccine grants to Sri Lanka, other than permitting the drug to be locally produced which will be beneficial in terms of cost-effectiveness.
Health officials said that frontline workers such as hospital staff, PHIs, Police and other personnel pressed into tackling the Covid-19 pandemic needed 700,000 doses of the vaccine.
The Health Ministry recorded 305 Covid -19 deaths and 62,445 infections so far with nearly 56,300 of them classified as recovered. There are still 5,863 patients in hospitals receiving treatment.