Indian COVID vaccines for Sri Lanka | Daily News
External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar tells President

Indian COVID vaccines for Sri Lanka

* Priority for Sri Lanka in vaccine exports
* Enhanced cooperation in post-COVID era
External Affairs Minister of India Dr. S.Jaishankar called on  President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday. Picture courtesy President’s Media Division
External Affairs Minister of India Dr. S.Jaishankar called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday. Picture courtesy President’s Media Division

India is ready to give priority to Sri Lanka when exporting the vaccines now being produced in India to prevent COVID-19, the External Affairs Minister of India Dr. S.Jaishankar told President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday.

The Indian Minister called on President Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat.

Commenting on the future course of action to control the COVID-19 pandemic, the President stated that Sri Lanka would like to obtain the COVID vaccines which are being produced in India, following an accurate assessment of the need for treatment.

Dr. Jaishankar agreed to give priority to Sri Lanka when his country begins exporting the vaccines to other countries. India currently produces the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVISHIELD vaccine under license at the Serum Institute of India (the world’s biggest vaccine producer) as well as the homegrown Bharat Biotech COVAXIN vaccine. The Serum Institute of India plans to initially produce 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for India, priced at INR 200 per dose. It will later produce 400 million doses for the WHO/CEPI/GAVI COVAX initiative from which too Sri Lanka plans to obtain COVID-19 vaccines. India’s own vaccination drive is slated to begin in a few weeks.

Both the President and the Indian Minister agreed to further enhance Indo – Sri Lanka bilateral relations to maximize mutual benefits. In addition to the ongoing projects carried out in Sri Lanka with the assistance of India, several other areas for cooperation and development were identified during the discussion. The East Container Terminal of the Colombo Port, LNG power plant, construction of houses and roads, development of agriculture and research, communications technology and development of alternative energy sources are among them.

Stating that Sri Lanka possesses a youth generation equipped with a formal education, President Rajapaksa sought India’s support to provide them with proper vocational training in various fields. When specific needs of Sri Lanka are known, India is willing to assist vocational training programmes, the External Affairs Minister said. Indian aid has already been received to utilize solar power as an alternative energy source. He said that India would be able to provide further financial and technical assistance in the future.

They agreed on the need to revive the tourism sector which was crippled in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Maldives continues to attract tourists following the bio-bubble method. Many Indians have already gone there. People like to travel to get rid of the stress caused by the pandemic. Hotels in New Delhi are now brimming with Indians. We can encourage them to visit Sri Lanka,” Dr. Jaishankar said.

It was decided to hold a discussion between India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal as soon as possible to determine a course of action for the revival of the tourism industry.

Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay, Joint Secretaries to the External Affairs Ministry of India Amit Narang and Dr. Shilpak Ambule, Secretary to the President Dr. P. B. Jayasundera, Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga and the Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Ministry Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage were also present.