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Come together as a nation forgetting political differences to fight the COVID-19 pandemic: Ranil


United National Party Leader, former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has made an appeal to the people to come together as a nation to fight the pandemic forgetting political differences.

He made this appeal during a discussion with a group of youth in Mirihana recently. During his speech, Ranil said:

“What we should be doing now is to come together as a nation to fight the pandemic forgetting political differences. We call for the appointment of a special parliamentary select committee to monitor the developments regarding the process of obtaining effective vaccines.

COVID-19 pandemic will not end this year, the vaccine distribution will be a time-consuming process. A Parliamentary select committee can monitor the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine and report to the House on its progress.

The government had asked for USD 10 million from exporters to buy the vaccine. Why should the government go after businessmen begging money when it can allocate funds from the budget? Sri Lanka is a nation that has provided free health care to its citizens, and therefore the government should be able to allocate funds for the vaccine. An assurance has been given by the government that vaccines will be available in March this year. This is far from being the truth.

Firstly the vaccine will be available only to 20 percent of the population as per GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunisation). India has said its vaccine would be available to only a 20 million population in the SAARC region. The total population in the SAARC region is around 600 million. Therefore, only a fraction of the Sri Lankan population will have access to the vaccine. Secondly, Sri Lanka has failed to implement guidelines stipulated by certain international programmes such as The Vaccines Pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. Sri Lanka has also failed to appoint a Strategic Advisory Group of Experts committee stipulated by WHO. Sri Lanka has also failed to provide an advanced market commitment as per the deadline which was beginning of November last year. Sri Lanka did this only in January this year. These shortcomings will lead to a delay in obtaining vaccines.

Sri Lanka, like other countries, is experiencing the third wave of COVID-19. Waves of COVID-19 come one after the other. Besides, there are different variants of the disease. There is the British variant which has already come to Sri Lanka. There is a South African variant which cannot be contained with the vaccine. There is also a Brazilian variant which a patient could get infected more than once. Therefore, the pandemic is not going to end soon according to world health experts.”

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