The government has so far not given the green light to the private sector to import Covid-19 vaccines because the jabs are not available for procurement anywhere in the world, a senior health official said.
The transactions and logistics involved in ordering the doses are happening either on a government to government or inter-governmental basis, he noted.
Even governments are finding it difficult to procure the required stocks of the vaccines as manufacturers cannot cope with the growing demand world-wide, he explained.
“These vaccines are not available over the counter”, he pointed out.
It was due to procurement difficulties that the private sector was asked to make use of the stocks available with the government without venturing out to import consignments on their own, the official clarified.
It was in this backdrop that a move by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) to import Covid-19 vaccines for the private sector was halted by the government.
However, the CCC was not happy with the sudden spoke in the wheel, which a senior official described as “distressing”.
“We were earlier asked to go ahead and explore the possibility of importing the vaccines, but they are playing a different tune after we tried to get down to the job”, he protested.
“We wouldn’t have pushed ahead if there was no mutual understand on the matter after many rounds of discussions”, he pointed out.
The whole objective was to procure 600,000 doses for private sector employees who were earlier administered the first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine, he said.
“We wanted to foot the bill to import the second dose as these employees are still waiting for the second dose preferably from the same Indian manufacturer than opt for a ‘cocktail’ of vaccines”, he elaborated.
“This would have reduced the government’s financial burden as we were willing to import the stock at our own expense”, he said.
“However, we have been told now that it cannot be allowed”.