Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa received 500,000 doses of Covishield vaccine Thursday donated by India as part of its “neighborhood first” policy.
India last week announced it would be sending COVID-19 vaccines under grants to Sri Lanka and seven other countries – Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles, Afghanistan and Mauritius.
Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and the Maldives have already received India’s COVID-19 vaccines, which are receiving grants in line with its “Neighborhood First” policy.
President Rajapaksa was at Colombo International Airport to receive delivery of free Indian COVID-19 vaccines that arrived on a special Air India flight.
The shipment was packed in 42 boxes.
President Rajapaksa was accompanied at the airport by the Indian envoy in Colombo Gopal Baglay.
“The arrival of 500,000 doses of COVISHIELD vaccines is on Blessed Poya Day, the Buddha’s first visit to Lanka. The High Commissioner said prayers for the health and well-being of the people of Lanka on the auspicious Duruthu Poya Day at the sacred Gangaramaya Temple “tweeted the Indian High Commission here.
The broadcast came after the country approved Oxford AstraZeneca’s emergency application of Covishield vaccine.
The vaccination program is due to start on Friday in six hospitals in the country’s capital Colombo, health officials said.
A total of 250,000 people, mostly health professionals, security and police, and vulnerable elderly people, will receive the vaccine as a priority.
The government said State Pharmaceuticals Corporation will order 3 million doses of the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine from the Indian Serum Institute this week.
Sri Lanka has so far registered more than 60,000 coronavirus cases with 288 deaths.
India is one of the world‘s largest drug manufacturers, and more and more countries have already turned to India for the coronavirus vaccines.