Cabinet nod for COVAX COVID vaccines | Daily News

Cabinet nod for COVAX COVID vaccines

Lanka’s eligibility confirmed
Priority for health workers, Tri-Forces and Police

The Cabinet of Ministers yesterday approved Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi’s proposal to enter into an agreement to receive COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility, which Sri Lanka has already joined.

COVAX is a co-initiative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI). It brings together Governments and manufacturers to ensure equal distribution of vaccines among emerging countries. The WHO has confirmed that Sri Lanka is eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines through this facility.

The production and development of vaccines for COVID-19 are being accelerated worldwide and COVAX will ensure that the vaccines eventually reach every country in an equitable and timely manner.

Eligible countries have been requested to submit procurement applications under two phases to receive the vaccine(s) including information regarding the priority target groups, cold chain storage capacities and other technical information. Sri Lanka submitted these applications on time well before the December 7, 2020 deadline. The second part of the process regarding the procurement of vaccines and the compensatory agreement has to be submitted before January 8. The proposal tabled by the Health Minister was approved by Cabinet to submit Part B of the vaccine application process according to the guidelines provided by the Attorney General and to sign an agreement with the manufacturer(s) when the vaccines are allocated through the COVAX facility.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 Vaccine Committee Chairman and Senior Chief Adviser to the President Lalith Weeratunga said the first vaccines for COVID-19 could be given to Sri Lankans before the upcoming Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

He made the above comment joining a current affairs programme on a private television channel on Monday night.

Weeratunga said discussions on this arrangement were at the final stage and the way it would be distributed has already been planned.

He said priority would be given to frontline health workers, whose number is about 155,000.

He said the Tri-Forces and Police and STF personnel working in the frontlines in COVID-19 related operations would receive the vaccine next.

Weeratunga said the financial arrangements for the vaccination have already been completed.