A chartered plane arrived in Sri Lanka with more than 1.5 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from the COVAX Facility.
Donated by the United States, the 1,500,100 doses of the vaccine come to Sri Lanka under the dose-sharing mechanism of COVAX facility promote equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines across the globe.
“The Government of Sri Lanka would like to commend the United States for taking the lead in sharing these doses with the people of Sri Lanka”, said Minister of Health, Pavithra Wanniarachchi. “This will add momentum to our ongoing efforts to protect our people from the pandemic through vaccination. The pandemic is not confined to a single country, therefore this kind of mutual support will strengthen the global efforts in combating COVID 19 pandemic”, Hon Wanniarachchi added.
For her part, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, said, “across the world, the United Nations is supporting countries to mobilize the largest global immunization effort in history. Human innovation and science have succeeded in providing us with safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. for everyone. Thanks to the generous support of the United States through the COVAX facility to vaccinate Sri Lankans, the UN in Sri Lanka alongside our Agencies WHO and UNICEF will continue to work with the Government to stem the spread of COVID-19 and recover from the pandemic.”
Sri Lanka is currently rolling out vaccinations against COVID-19 for eligible groups, in line with the National Vaccine Deployment Plan of the Ministry of Health (MOH). Today’s shipment of vaccines is the second from COVAX following the delivery in March of the first batch of 264,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca ‘Covishield’ vaccines.
“Fighting COVID-19 is not up to each country alone, as it is afflicting every country. Collaboration among countries to protect lives and mitigate the effects of COVID-19 everywhere is absolutely essential, so it is great to see the collaboration between the United States and Sri Lanka in this instance, through the COVAX facility”, said UNICEF Sri Lanka Representative, Christian Skoog. “UNICEF is happy to have supported logistically the arrival of these vaccines”.
WHO Representative to Sri Lanka, Dr. Alaka Singh noted that “COVID-19 has changed global public health in a very fundamental way. This is captured by the solidarity underlining COVAX and, as co-lead, WHO has championed equitable access to vaccines because ‘no one is safe unless everyone is safe’. WHO has also called for dose-sharing as a feasible way to close the immediate supply gap and appreciates this response from the United States. WHO commends Sri Lanka’s vaccination effort as the key response to the pandemic, backed by public health and social measures”.
The United Nations is playing a crucial role in ensuring the availability of vaccines through the COVAX Facility in what is the largest, most complex ground operation in the history of immunization.
COVAX is a partnership between the World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and UNICEF; it aims to provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.