Colombo , January 29 : The COVID-19 vaccination drive kicked off in Sri Lanka on Friday, a day after India's gift of 5 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine reached the island nation.
The drive began at the Army Hospital in Narahenpita as frontline workers fighting COVID-19 were vaccinated with the 'Made in India' Covishield vaccine. The vaccination drive was formally launched at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases with the participation of State Minister of Primary Health Services, Pandemics and COVID Prevention, Dr Sudarshini Fernandopulle, and India High Commissioner Gopal Baglay.
The first vaccine was given to Dr Ananda Wijewickrema, a specialist at the hospital. The hospital staff was then vaccinated, Colombo Page reported.
"Made in India vaccine was administered in various hospitals in Colombo. This drive was formally launched at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases. Hon'ble MOS Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, High Commissioner and various other dignitaries attended the event," Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka tweeted.
Last week, Sri Lanka's drug regulatory body -- National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA)--gave a go-ahead to Oxford Astrazeneca's vaccine.
The AstraZeneca-Oxford Covishield vaccine developed in the UK is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII).
India on Thursday sent a total of 5 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Sri Lanka under the "Vaccine Maitri" initiative.
After receiving the consignment of vaccines, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa tweeted: "Received 500,000 COVID-19 vaccines provided by people of India at BIA today (28). Thank you! PM Shri Narendra Modi and people of India for the generosity shown towards People of Sri Lanka at this time in need."
Sri Lanka plans to first vaccinate about 150,000 health personnel and 120,000 tri-forces, police and other security personnel, who are in the frontline fighting against the virus.
Vaccinations will be conducted at Colombo National Hospital, Colombo North and Colombo South Teaching Hospitals, Mulleriyawa Base Hospital, Homagama Base Hospital and National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Sri Lankan Ministry of Health said.
Sri Lanka has recorded over 61,000 Covid-19 cases so far. As many as 297 people in the country have succumbed to the virus.