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Rs. 1.4bn loss due to expiration of Pfizer vaccines



The government has no plans to bring down the US-made Pfizer BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 after about six million doses (about one million vials) expired this week, causing a whopping loss of Rs. 1.4 billion to the Government.

At the beginning of the vaccination drive against COVID-19, many people were not given the US-made Pfizer vaccine as their first and second doses. The limited amounts of Pfizer were restricted to those travelling overseas, cancer patients, and fisherfolk in the North and Northwestern coastal areas.

Health Services Deputy Director General Dr. Hemantha Herath told the Sunday Times that the Health Ministry had ended administering the US-made vaccine as the people had shown less interest in getting booster doses against the virus.

He said that despite 8.2 million people obtaining the first Pfizer booster dose (third dose) only 202,571 people had been administered the second booster shot (fourth dose).

The majority of the Pfizer vaccines were purchased by the Health Ministry, said Dr. Herath. The United States donated 1.9 million doses of Pfizer in partnership with COVAX, a World Health Organisation-led programme.

Dr. Saman Ratnayake, a former Secretary to the State Ministry of Pharmaceutical Products, Supply and Regulation, said the vials were bought in 2021 at USD 6-7 a vial when the dollar rate was Rs. 198.

According to the Epidemiology Unit, about 12 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered in Sri Lanka. More than 2.6 million people were given the Pfizer vaccine as the first dose, 1.1 million as the second dose, 8.3 million as the booster dose and just over 200,000 as the second booster dose.

The government has spent an estimated Rs. 52 billion for the purchase of the Pfizer vaccines.

The Health Ministry’s Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Samitha Ginige said the shelf life was extended from July 31 to October 31 after consultation with the WHO but still those who got the jab were less than expected.

Just after WHO’s confirmation of the shelf life, the government tried to donate six million doses to Myanmar with the assistance of the WHO but failed.

Health authorities said the vaccination drive to immunise school students with the Pfizer vaccine too failed due to frequent school closures. They say this year’s economic crisis, political unrest, transportation, and gas issues diverted the people’s attention away from the second booster dose.

“It is such a waste knowing millions of doses of Pfizer have expired. There were times people were desperately looking for Pfizer. Now there are no Pfizer vaccines in the country,” said Head of the Public Health Inspectors Union Upul Rohana.

He said the issue would arise for those travelling overseas seeking the Pfizer dose as the vaccine was currently not available even in the private sector.

“Most people didn’t have much choice ending up with the Indian-made Covishield or the Chinese-made Sinopharm. We as MPs were getting calls from well-known personalities seeking the Pfizer vaccine as the first and second doses,” said Opposition MP Kins Nelson who raised the vaccine concern in Parliament recently. The MP said the government should look into how such wastage of vaccines took place when there was actual demand for the specific vaccine.

COVID-19 claimed 16,781 lives and 671,110 persons have been confirmed to have contracted the virus since the first outbreak. At present Sinopharm is available at MoH-based vaccination centres.


(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by has not been edited by SLM staff)


Won’t allow country to collapse: President 




Delivering a special statement in Parliament a short while ago on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Extended Fund Facility (EFF), President Ranil Wickremesinghe said he would not allow the country to collapse even if he has to face difficulties. 

He said that at a time when the country was in chaos in July last year, no one was willing to accept responsibility and he was requested to take over. “I had no power in Parliament, no Members of Parliament from my Party to call my own. However, my strength was my conviction that I was capable of rebuilding the country,” he said. 

The receipt of the IMF Facility is a step towards building a better future for the youth and uplifting the country. The credit facility amounts to approximately USD 3 billion over 4 years, with the first tranche of USD 333 million will be received. 

Additionally, the country is expecting about USD 7 billion dollars more in rapid credit support from other parties, President Wickremesinghe said. 

He said that some people consider the IMF EFF as just another loan, while others claim that the total debt of the country cannot be paid off with the amount received. He noted that these statements show either ignorance or a willingness to betray the country for political gain 

President Wickremesinghe told Parliament that the IMF EFF will restore Sri Lanka’s international recognition, ensure the country is not bankrupt and help banks regain international recognition. This will create opportunities for low-interest credit, restore foreign investors’ confidence and lay the foundation for a strong new economy.

The President said that amidst numerous hardships, bearing all kinds of pressure, and undergoing suffering with equanimity, the people of this country remained calm and patient. Their commitment was a great strength in achieving the IMF Facility. Therefore, he extended his gratitude to the people of the country

“We are now starting a new journey. We have to introduce many economic reforms throughout the process. The foundation for our success will be through this path. Some of these reforms have already been proposed and implemented through the interim budget of 2022 and the budget for 2023. We will introduce numerous other reforms,” he said in his special statement.

He also said the government aims to reduce the primary deficit to 2.3% of GDP by 2025 and increase revenue to 14% of GDP by 2026. “The standard corporate income tax rate has been raised to 30%, and sectoral tax holidays have been eliminated. The PAYE tax rate has been raised from 12% to 15%, and the tax exemption limit has been reduced from Rs. 300 million to Rs. 80 million,” he said.

The President also stated that he had previously requested the support of the opposition in rebuilding the economy, but did not receive it. He had made similar requests during the opening of Parliament and Budget debates, but to no avail. Despite his efforts, the opposition refused to extend their support citing various reasons, the President’s Media Division said.

The President acknowledged that the current situation is difficult, but assured that the sacrifices made now will lead to benefits in the near future. He emphasizes the importance of working together towards the goal of building a better future for the younger generation by setting aside past criticisms.

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260 go AWOL from police service




Police Headquarters sources said that 260 people have left the police service this year without officially informing the Police Department.

Sources said that most of them are police constables and sergeants and that many of them have left due to stress, economic hardships, excessive work, undue influence and restlessness.

Orders have been issued to all these people over leaving the police service.

In 2022, 900 police personnel had left the police service.

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Do not treat prisoners like cattle: Magistrate 




Colombo Chief Magistrate Prasanna Alwis yesterday (21) criticized the practice of bringing a large number of suspects in chains to the court like a herd of cattle.

“No point in having the slogan ‘Prisoners are Human Beings’ if you don’t respect it. From now on, do not bring suspects to court like animals. They should be brought in separately,” the Chief Magistrate said, expressing strong displeasure at the actions of the prison officials.

A large number of suspects, including foreign nationals arrested on suspicion of drug offences, were handcuffed and chained together in a line and produced in the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court for proceedings yesterday.

Source – Aruna

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