Sri Lankan parliament speaker, legislators receive COVID-19 vaccine

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COLOMBO, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) — Sri Lanka’s Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena on Wednesday received the AstraZeneca vaccine against the COVID-19 virus along with 24 legislators at the parliamentary complex, local media reported.

Abeywardena took the jab from health officials as the country commenced a vaccination drive for members of the general public and parliamentarians from Tuesday.

Abeywardena said he received the shot to encourage people to come forward and get the vaccination against the virus which had to date infected over 76,000 people and caused 409 deaths in the country.

Acting Health Minister Channa Jayasumana told reporters earlier in the day that the COVID-19 vaccine will be given to approximately 57,000 people in the Western Province on Wednesday in the districts of Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara.

The minister said the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine had shown to provide about 70 percent protection within three weeks of receiving the first dose of the vaccine and taking the second dose will further increase its efficacy.

He said the second dose of the vaccine will be given to each individual after 10 weeks since receiving the first jab.

Sri Lanka will receive an estimated 1.6 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of this month under the WHO’s COVAX facility, while the Chinese government will also donate 300,000 doses of its Sinopharm vaccine to the Sri Lankan government which will arrive in the country soon. Enditem

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