Sri Lanka on Wednesday received 600,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine that would be used for the vaccination of Chinese workers living in the island nation, a senior health official has said.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa accepted the vaccine from Chinese Ambassador Qi Zhenhong at the airport after the doses were flown in on Wednesday.
The vaccine was developed by Sinopharm’s Beijing Institute of Biological Products and the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products in China.
The Chinese Sinopharm vaccine will be used on the Chinese workers currently in Sri Lanka.
Around 200,000 Chinese workers are believed to be currently in Sri Lanka according to estimates.
“As per the Chinese government’s request, we will first vaccinate Chinese workers in Sri Lanka, most likely starting next week,” Chief Epidemiologist Dr Sudath Samaraweera said.
Although Sri Lanka’s National Medicine Regulatory Authority (NMRA) has approved the decision to bring in the Chinese vaccine, they have not approved for its emergency use as the World Health Organisation was yet to approve the Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use.
Sri Lanka till March 30 has vaccinated 913,219 people out of its 21 million population. India in January had donated 500,000 doses of anti-COVID vaccines to Sri Lanka.
India is one of the world's biggest drug-makers and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring the coronavirus vaccines.