COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka on Monday received the first batch of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the first country in South Asia to get the U.S. made COVID-19 jab.
Officials say 26,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine directly purchased by the Sri Lankan government was flown into the country on Monday.
Health authorities say that Sri Lanka had signed agreements to purchase five million doses of Pfizer vaccine this year. The country is expected to receive about 200,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine this month.
Sri Lanka president Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in a tweet said “Sri Lanka becomes the first country in South Asia to acquire a contingent of Pfizer vaccines.”
State Minister of Production, Supply, and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Channa Jayasumana said the Pfizer vaccine would be stored in a special facility developed by the government as the vaccine need to be kept at minus 70 degree Celsius.
Sri Lankan health authorities have so far used AstraZeneca manufactured in India, Chinese’s Sinopharm and Russian Sputnik V in the country's battle against COVID-19.
Officials gave permission Sunday to re-open restaurants, hotels and indoor sports centers that had remained closed for several weeks due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. Gyms, salons and barber shops are also allowed to re-open the under new guidelines. The country was under lockdown from mid-May until the end of June.
Sri Lanka has seen a sharp increase of positive cases and deaths since April because of celebrations during the traditional new year festival. The country'stotal number of positive cases have reached 265,629 with 3,236 fatalities.