The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) has highlighted several key issues related to Covid-19 control in Sri Lanka.
🔹 ️The present accomplishments in the COVID vaccination in Sri Lanka:*
1️⃣ As of today, 50% of the Sri Lankan population has been able to get vaccinated with both the doses of vaccines against COVID-19. Therefore, 50% of the total Sri Lankan population will be fully immunized against COVID infection by the beginning of October.
2️⃣ With the 4 million doses of Sinopharm vaccines received yesterday (18th September 2021), 31.4 million doses of the vaccine required for the complete vaccination of nearly 73% of the total population of Sri Lanka have been imported. That is, enough vaccine doses have been imported to the country to fully vaccinate the population over the age of 18. Therefore, by the end of October, 73% of the total population of Sri Lanka will be fully immunized, if people over the age of 20 enthusiastically receive their prescribed 2 doses.
3️⃣ Pfizer vaccine was approved to be used in the age category of school children in Sri Lanka by 17th September 2021. With the forthcoming 4 million Pfizer vaccines, a systematic vaccination programme against COVID-19 under the guidance of the National Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases (ACCD), it is possible to create a safer environment for the school children over 12 years of age.
Apparently, Sri Lanka will be able to control the effects of the Delta strain, enabling the gradual reopening the country from the beginning of October to resume the life under the new normalization in the beginning of November, and mitigate the impact of the COVID epidemic on the country’s economy.
*🔸 ️Future Challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic:*
1️⃣ To this day, most deaths are reported in adults over the age of 60 who have not been vaccinated. Therefore, despite the fact that their vaccine has already been imported, there is a group of people over the age of 60 who have not received their vaccinations. Hence, vaccination of this group of the population can reduce the number of future deaths.
2️⃣ Due to a belief in “a super vaccine” among the citizens between the ages of 20 and 30 and intimidation of people and spreading malicious myths by various parties about the effects of vaccination, there seems to be a lack of interest among young population in getting the vaccine. Owing to the above reasons, the country would lose the benefits of vaccination to control the epidemic by reaching the expected 70% threshold of vaccination.
3️⃣ With the opening of liquor stores on 17th September 2021, the manner in which dependent individuals to liquor have assembled in those spots shows that they do not care about the advice given by the health sector in the face of the epidemic. If this situation continues, the risk of spreading the virus in the society is inevitable.
4️⃣ Even if vaccinated, the virus that spreads in the community is not destroyed. People who have been vaccinated can also become carriers of the virus without symptoms. Therefore, it is very important to get accustomed to a new normal lifestyle that is in line with health guidelines. If the reduction of the concentration of the virus in community is not done, the risk of developing a vaccine-resistant COVID strain endemic to Sri Lanka cannot be ruled out in the future.
*💠 Measures to be taken to prevent a fifth COVID wave in Sri Lanka:*
1️⃣ Complete vaccination of more than 70% of the population of the country and vaccination of school children in accordance with the guidelines and approval of the National Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases.
2️⃣ Commencement of the process of administering a third priority booster dose to those who have received both doses, from the beginning of November, subject to the approval of the National Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases.
3️⃣ Adaptation of the people to the new normal lifestyle in accordance with the health guidelines.
4️⃣ Introduction of new and simple COVID testing methods that are freely available to identify the positive asymptimatic individuals carrying virus while vaccinated.
5️⃣ Conduct random community sampling tests scientifically and uniformly, covering all districts, to identify emerging COVID clusters in the community.
6️⃣ Identify the potentially new strains by conducting genetic testing in a scientific and uniform manner and implement strategies to prevent their spread with in the society from the very beginning.