Government shuts out Sinopharm despite Chinese gift
COLOMBO – Sri Lanka has effectively shut the door for the Chinese-made Sinopharm jab despite Beijing’s vaccine diplomacy of making a bigger donation of doses compared to regional rival India.
The cabinet of ministers announced Tuesday (6) that the government had decided to buy an additional six million doses of the Russian-made Suptnik V vaccine on top of 13.5 million doses of the Indian-made AstraZeneca vaccines already on order.
Last month, an order was placed for seven million doses of the Sputnik vaccine at a cost of $69.65 million.
The Indian and the Russian vaccines alone will cover 65% of Sri Lanka’s 21 million population, which means there will be no necessity to import the Sinopharm vaccine.
Cabinet spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters in Colombo on Tuesday, that with the order for Sputnik V, the government had reached the required number of doses to inoculate the targeted population to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the island.
He said other orders would be considered if there any supply shortfalls.
India had donated 500,000 does in January and China topped it by 100,000 with a gift of 600,000 doses of Sinopharm on March 31. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa went to the airport to receive the gift in the same way he accepted the Indian donation in January.
However, unlike the Indian-made vaccine, Sri Lanka is yet to approve the use of Sinopharm vaccine and it was allowed into the country on the basis that it will be used only to inoculate Chinese nationals in Sri Lanka