‘Sri Lanka’s vaccination drive successful’ | Daily News
GMOA says

‘Sri Lanka’s vaccination drive successful’

There are several accomplishments in the very fast vaccination drive launched by the Sri Lankan Government against COVID-19. These successful achievements need to be highlighted at this juncture, Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) Secretary Dr. Senal Fernando said.

According to Dr. Fernando, as of now, over 50 percent of the Sri Lankan population has been vaccinated with both doses against COVID-19. This means, over 50 percent of the total Sri Lankan population will be fully immunised against COVID infection by the beginning of October.

With the four million doses of Sinopharm vaccines received on September 18, 31.4 million doses of the vaccines required for the complete vaccination of nearly 73 percent of the total population of Sri Lanka have been fulfilled. That means an adequate amount of vaccine doses have been imported to the country to fully vaccinate the over 18 population. A consignment of 120,000 vials of the second dose of the Russia-made Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine was brought to the country on September 19 morning.

“Therefore, by the end of October, 73 percent of the total population of Sri Lanka will be fully immunised, if people over the age of 20 enthusiastically receive their recommended second dose,” he said.

“Pfizer vaccine was approved to be used for schoolchildren of Sri Lanka by September 17. With the expected four million Pfizer vaccines, a systematic vaccination programme against COVID-19 under the guidance of the National Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases (ACCD), it is possible to create a safer environment for schoolchildren over the age of 12,” he said.

“Apparently, Sri Lanka will be able to control the effects of the Delta strain, enabling the gradual reopening of the country from the beginning of October to resume the life under the new normalisation at the beginning of November and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on the country’s economy,” Dr. Fernando said.

Dr. Fernando explained the future challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. To this day, most of the deaths reported are of adults over the age of 60 who have not been vaccinated. Therefore, despite the fact that adequate quantities of vaccines have already been imported, there is a group of people over the age of 60 who have not received their vaccines. The vaccination of this group can reduce the number of deaths in the future.

“Due to a belief in a ‘super vaccine’ among the citizens between the ages of 20 and 30, the intimidation of people and the spread of malicious myths about the negative effects of vaccination by various parties, there seems to be a lack of interest among the young population in receiving the vaccine. Owing to the above reasons, the country would lose the benefits of vaccination in controlling the epidemic by reaching the expected 70 percent threshold of vaccination,” he said.

Dr. Fernando pointed out that with the opening of liquor stores on September 17, the way many individuals behaved at those liquor stores shows that they do not care about the advice given by the health sector in the midst of the epidemic. If this situation continues, the risk of the spread of the virus is inevitable.

“Even the vaccination cannot destroy the virus permanently. People who have been vaccinated can also become carriers of the virus without any visible symptoms. Therefore, it is very important to be accustomed to a new normal lifestyle that is in line with the given health guidelines. If the reduction of the concentration of the virus in the community is not done, the risk of developing a vaccine-resistant COVID strain endemic to Sri Lanka cannot be prevented in the future,” he said.

Dr. Fernando stressed the measures that have to be taken to prevent a fifth COVID wave in Sri Lanka. Complete vaccination of more than 70 percent of the population of the country and the vaccination of schoolchildren in accordance with the guidelines and the approval of the National Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases should be done.

“The commencement of the process of administering a third priority booster dose to those who have received both doses, from the beginning of November, should be done subject to the approval of the National Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases,” the GMOA Secretary said.

The adaptation of people to the new normal lifestyle in accordance with the health guidelines is another very important requirement. The introduction of new and simple COVID testing methods that are freely available to identify the positive asymptomatic individuals carrying the virus even after being vaccinated is required,” he said.

“The authorities should conduct random community sampling tests scientifically and uniformly, covering all districts, to identify emerging COVID clusters in the community and identify the potentially new strains by conducting genetic testing in a scientific and uniform manner and implement strategies to prevent their spread within the society from the very beginning,” he added.

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