Covid-19 vaccines in private hospitals? | Sunday Observer
Policy decision needs to be taken

Covid-19 vaccines in private hospitals?

12 September, 2021

A policy decision will be taken on permitting Covid-19 vaccinations in private hospitals if the pandemic continues to be a threat needing annual vaccination of the population, State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) Chairman Dr. Prasanna Gunasena said.

He said this was a matter for the Government to decide on if it was going to continue the vaccination of people every year against Covid-19 or permit private hospitals to step in, giving people the freedom to choose a vaccine they prefer, in the future.

At a webinar themed, ‘Covid 19: the Way Forward’, Dr. Gunasena said there was no clear expert opinion if the vaccine has to be continued year-on-year. The prospect of allowing private companies to procure the Covid-19 vaccines has not been considered at Government level so far. Covid-19 vaccine producing companies are directly dealing with Governments and are not entertaining third parties at present.

He was responding to queries by virtual participants at the webinar organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce on Friday.

He said 83 percent of the above 18 population had been vaccinated by late last week and 59 percent of the total population had received the first dose of one vaccine. The total population who has been fully vaccinated is 44 percent.

The SPC was the first institution in South Asia to secure loans from the World Bank and Asian Development Banks. The loans obtained from the two lending institutions will be used to procure Covid-19 vaccines. Dr. Gunasena said so far, the SPC has received 27 million doses of the vaccine, of which some arrived as donations from foreign Governments.

Around Rs. 46 billion had been spent on vaccines by the Government up to last week while more vaccines worth Rs. 30 billion need to be acquired to complete the State inoculation drive aimed at vaccinating over 70 percent of the population before the end of this year, the SPC Chief said.

The Government hopes to receive four million doses of Sinopharm on September 18 and 120,000 second doses of Sputnik V next Friday. And another four million doses of Pfizer will be shipped to Sri Lanka next month and 14 million doses of Pfizer in November and December.

The Government will expand storage facilities to accommodate 10-15 million doses of Pfizer vaccine which needs to be stored under stringent cold-chain conditions. According to Dr. Gunasena, the country can currently store only up to three million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.