29 July, 2021

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Denying Citizens Their Right To Receive The Second AstraZeneca Vaccine Is A Violation Of The Right To Equality & Non-Discrimination In Access To Health Care

Dear Mr. President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Mr. Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, and the Minister and State Ministers of Health,

We are writing to you as a follow up to our letter to the Director General Health. We raised in that letter certain critical issues in regard to the current Covid vaccination programme. We highlighted the need for clarity in policy planning and programming and the importance of ensuring equitable access to Covid vaccines. We asked that all frontline workers providing Covid health services should be given priority. We questioned the exclusion of some and the need for rational system for determining frontline workers and vulnerable categories. That should be given priority in the administration of the vaccine.

We trust that the specific questions we have asked will receive clear answers from the Director General. We hope that the Minister of Health and State Ministers will facilitate that process as soon as possible, and as a matter of urgency. This will inspire public confidence in the health system that the whole country witnessed, and was acknowledged even globally, when the government commenced its Covid response programme in 2020.  

We now understand that some stocks of AstraZeneca vaccine are still available for distribution. We also understand from an official press release and the media that new stocks of AstraZeneca have arrived or are expected soon. We are now writing to urge and call upon you to please ensure that this vaccine is distributed in a completely transparent and planned manner to those citizens who received the first AstraZeneca vaccine.

All those who received the first AstraZeneca vaccine in the initial phase of the Ministry of Health vaccination programme (after February 2021), have a right to receive the second in the manner that is medically recommended. There is a lack of clarity in regard to the recommended period of time between the two doses of the vaccine. Already three months have passed since the first AstraZeneca vaccine was administered. A prolonged lapse of time between the vaccines can make the vaccine ineffective. This will impact on the success of the vaccination campaign in responding to the Covid pandemic. It is the duty of the Health Ministry to ensure that the second AstraZeneca vaccine is given to persons who received the first, as soon as the vaccines come to the country, without any further delays.

In doing so, we ask that within this group, priority is given to all front line workers directly involved in Covid health services, and to citizens over the age of 60 years, taking account of the date and the locations of the vaccination points. These are categories considered most vulnerable to the Covid disease globally, and according to the evidence base and statistics currently available in Sri Lanka. The Director General in media statements on the Ministry of Health guidelines, has also recognized senior citizens as a vulnerable category that must be given first priority in vaccine distribution and administration. This is being recognised (and should continue to be recognized) in relation to the current Sinopharm and Sputnik vaccination distribution.

Denying citizens their right to receive the second AstraZeneca vaccine in completion of the first part of their vaccination regime is a violation of the right to equality and non-discrimination in access to health care. We call upon you to ensure that necessary priority is given to all frontline workers and other identified vulnerable categories in the administration of the second AstraZeneca vaccine. Early information on the date and time for vaccinations should be provided as is the practice now followed in regard to the new vaccines, which have come into the country.

Successive governments have respected, fulfilled and protected the important right to equitable access to health care from the time of independence, for over 70 years. We call upon the Government to collectively fulfill this responsibility to the People, in administering what is left of the AstraZeneca vaccines and in distributing new stocks.

Prof. Savitri Goonesekere, Emeritus Professor of Law and Former Vice Chancellor, University of Colombo

Dr. G. Usvatte-aratchi, Retired from UN/DESA, New York

Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy, former Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict

 Prof. Arjuna Aluvihare, Emeritus Professor of Surgery and former Vice Chancellor, University of Peradeniya, former Chairman, University Grants Commission

Prof. Gananath Obeysekere, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University, USA

Bishop Duleep de Chickera, retired Anglican Bishop of Colombo.

Mr. Tissa Jayatilaka, former Executive Director of the United States-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission

Mr. Chandra Jayaratne, former Chairman, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce

Prof. Deepika Udagama, Professor of Law, University of Peradeniya, former Chairperson, Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka

Prof. Camena Guneratne,  Department of Legal Studies, Open University of Sri Lanka

Prof Gameela Samarasinghe, Department of Sociology, University of Colombo

Dr A. C. Visvalingam – Past President, Society of Structural Engineers, Sri Lanka

Rev. Dr. Jayasiri Peiris, former General Secretary of the National Christian Council, former Principal of the Theological College of Sri Lanka

Dr. Ranjini Obeyesekere, Retired Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, Princeton University, USA.

Mr. Priyantha Gamage, Attorney-at-Law, Commissioner,  Legal Aid Commission of Sri Lanka

Mr. SCC Elankovan, Attorney-at-Law and social activist

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Latest comments

  • 22
    2

    It is not about denying vaccine, it is about China and Russia. Unfortunately, China and Russia don’t use Astra Zeneca or other vaccines used in many Countries. Rajapaksas used other western countries and India as enemies. This is because they have indebted to China (big donations to the family) and they can simply mesmerise Buddhist Sinhala voters with this mantra. But their families including Gotas wife, children and his brother still in USA to enjoy the freedom of life.

    • 21
      1

      Srilanka is in a real big problem.
      :
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzcyVVElz5o

      Why do the LEADERSHIP take serious actions saving the nation from the COVID 19 ?
      .
      Even if the GOVT has no funds enough, but FORMER DIPLOMATs could work on the getting the surplus DOSES from US, Canada and EU countries.
      :
      We need only 16 millions of vaccines (full doses).
      .
      There we need 80 billions of Rps = 400 millions of US dollars.
      :
      It is believed the HUGE PURCHAGE OF MAHINDA RAJAPKASHE on RECENT luxury vehicles cost nearly 400 millions of US dollars.
      :
      EITHER RAJAPKASHES are totally HEARTLESS or THEY ARE BORN STUPID ?

      • 7
        4

        Why waste time begging other countries hard earned foreign exchange to procure COVID vaccine. Take the advice of medical anthropologist and give BCG jab to everyone.

        • 5
          1

          What is the relation between BCG and Covid? My facts check say it is just speculations that the ones already vaccinated with BCG could have a better immune cover against Covid. 😎😎😎😎😎😎😎

        • 4
          1

          What a nut case!

        • 3
          5

          None of the signatories have a medical backgrounds. None seems to suggest mixing vaccines if the government cannot get enough Astra Seneca. There are few studies done about mixing and some of them suggest mixing increases the effectiveness of the vaccines with no major side effects. Some counties are already mixing Astra with Pfizer or Moderna. I got Astra shot first and Pfizer after 12 weeks although I had the choice of getting Astra as the second shot. If the government cannot get Astra, it should consider giving an alternative vaccine.

          • 4
            1

            Dog@
            Urs fit most to be a “Guinea pig” get well soon😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎please dont insult dogs , thank u

          • 0
            0

            This dog have choice go and lick sudha

          • 1
            0

            Dog,
            .
            I’m not going to labour points already made in the “Open Letter”. Since you say that you deliberately mixed vaccines, you mean what you say, although I still tend to dismiss the argument as one of convenience to cover up the mess. Also, we criticise using hindsight.
            .
            Most of the signatories have a legal background, but the mess-up has been caused by dishonesty and maladministration, and what is required is rational thinking.
            .
            Every time an inaccuracy creeps into a comment you undermine the entire protest. This mistake is inexcusable. You have said: “None of the signatories have a medical backgrounds.” Wrong!
            .
            Notice how Arjuna Aluvihare is described. He won’t know me, but I have met him; he is known to have been brilliant. Granted, not a virologist.
            .
            Also, when making statements about verifiable facts it is best to unambiguously identify yourself, or get all facts right.
            .
            I know many of the signatories (caveat, they may not know me) and I will confront some with their own lapses. However, let’s remember that all humans make mistakes; they must not repeat!
            .
            Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 48 3111 444V) aka “Sinhala_Man”

      • 6
        0

        Why do the LEADERSHIP not take serious actions saving the nation from the COVID 19 ?

        This should be clarified and it is the need of the hour. Why do POWERFUL fake monks wearing robes stay as if THEY ARE CAUGHT BY STAND STILL reactions ?
        .
        They should be equally responsible for the MESS being created by giving the power to a PSYCHOPATH…. whose abilities are far below the levels of that PANI MAKER or the like Kalaka n niyas- kali amma controlled mental patients.

      • 1
        0

        .
        leelagemalli,

        .
        Points well made in that 5-minute English video. I had no option in Bandarawela. I got the first shot of Sinopharm six days ago. The booster is due on the 11th of July 2021.
        .
        There was some delay in getting the vaccine owing to some token strike, but that did not bother me. I co-operated fully with those giving the vaccine. I was good-humoured but when one old woman was asked to come another day, I asked her to excuse that mistake, but that we should have the courage to blame the Double-Paksa government. I said it in Sinhala to strangers seated with me and to MOH staff, persuasively – quietly but firmly. Medical staff had got both Astra-Zenecas; good for them, I said.
        .
        My wife, in the Colombo District, got only the first Astra-Zeneca ; I’m not going to dwell on her experience here, having said it earlier. It was bad. When will she get the second? I can only say, thanks for the Open Letter. We are dispensable; best to understand that!

    • 2
      5

      I wonder why the US is reluctant to give AstraZeneca shots to its own people and is willing to distibute globally.
      Sri Lanka held back Chinese vaccines until they were cleared by WHO.
      Same with SputnikV. So far no adverse reports as for AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna (reports on the last two have been hushed up).
      Frankly, AstraZeneca & SputnikV are best value for money. China gives a good part of its vaccines free. That should offset the higher price a little.
      *
      It is good to fact check before fantasizing.

  • 15
    0

    Dear signatories.
    Thank you for your efforts on our behalf – Self being two decades over 60 and waiting for second jab already overdue.
    I love your optimism in these times when there is only steamrollering of everything including right to dissent.
    …..We TRUST that the specific questions we have asked will receive clear answers from the Director General…….
    OMG. What trusting souls you are !
    Flippancy aside there are two sayings : Baying at the moon or the more pithier local one: Beeri aliyata veenah vardanay kiriema.

    • 6
      0

      My view,

      You can wait light years if you would still believe that DIRECTOR GENERAL would come back to you with answers to your specific questions.
      :
      It is too late, the nation s situation of the day is like … a bunch of thugs, high criminals rounded up your own property with some approvals of your lovely ones.
      :
      Please discuss this with your circles. I dont live in SL, if I were there, I would not have been alive today.

      • 5
        0

        I have a good kind of friend who also got first jab ASTRAZENECCA, and is now caught by all anxities not being able to know what to do next. Alone the thoughts go through her head she says, could kill her. Not by COVID, but by level of anxities could make her fatally sick.


        Why dont lanken MEDICAL DOCTORS (seniors and retired men and women) come forward to take away the anxities of the people ???????????????????????????????????
        If not today when ?

  • 8
    2

    People have the right to participate in a medical experiment (aka take the covid jab).
    But the governments have no right to black mail people into taking them, by threatening to deny employment and services if they didnt take one.

    • 6
      0

      H
      Rightly or wrongly people are scared of the virus. They want protection.
      You call it an experiment, but many want the experiment. Others should have the right to opt out. They have such right in the West.
      *
      The non-vaccination route will require effort to protect the vulnerable.
      A planned scheme of prioritized vaccination of the vulnerable and letting others decide if they need it will be sensible, as at worst they risk only to themselves, and only 20% of the infected show serious symptoms and only 5% or so require special care.
      But all of this requires planning and policy.

      • 4
        0

        “The non-vaccination route will require effort to protect the vulnerable.”

        For Shavendra, Kamal(a) and their 15,000 fellow generals who singlehandedly obliterated LTTE, CORVID 19 is nothing. By reciting their names Virus would have disappeared.

        Why waste money, time, lives on vaccines?
        Perhaps if we could bring a few barefoot doctors …..

  • 5
    4

    I wonder why Chinese Embassy thanked the Jaffna people,is it for testing,I heard people refusing to have the jab

    • 9
      2

      Srilanken premier is an animal.
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1j7zEBtPLeQ

      People are dying … he as no other premier we have before, has the heartless nature to order new vehicles…. THIRISANNU.

      • 5
        1

        It should be he may be an animal.
        :
        If Ministry of Finance is under his control,
        .
        How could such purchase be okayed by him so that BANK OF CEYLON to have proceeded on the purchase ? At the begining on, they should no thave hearted feeling about saving the nations but about searcing for ” huge discount offering purchases”: We cant forget those MIG deal and other deals how Rajapakshes alleged . Nevertheless FAKE media governing SRILANKA through their MEDIA mafia men, made the perception ” the country can only be saved if RAJAPAKSHES would be brought back “.
        Today, the OUTCOME is before the nation.
        Even that ABHAYARAMA PINGONA hidden behind SANGA costume and Alle Baluwansha are speechless. Abeythissa pingona is nowhwere to add his two cents regarding the current situation. All these ANIMALS decorating with SANGA clothes made it by twisting the PUNNAKKU drinkers vulnerable mind set.: Today, country is simialr to gone to PIMP’s hand.

    • 2
      4

      C
      It could be to teach the leaders of the people of Jaffna some good manners.

      • 2
        0

        Who else can speak for Sri Lankan government? These days China speaks for the Sri Lankan government means …………

        • 0
          0

          A
          Does it?
          Can you give examples?

    • 3
      0

      cugan

      “I wonder why Chinese Embassy thanked the Jaffna people,is it for testing”

      No………, Check the red book, being the Chinese Communist Party Chief God, Mao had already advised the manufacturing process of this vaccine to his followers, supporters, b***s carriers, …… I believe SJ may have obtained a copy.

  • 7
    3

    So many people having reaction and illness after having Chinese jab,media/social scared to gives good picture,as our head wants to build separate detention center in this crucial moment,even this juncture he has stopped importing turmeric but that got scientifically prove,but prioritory given to import luxury SUV for our 225 donks ,
    Someone suggest we need foreign judge but we already have foreigner as head,,and so many donks got.PR in another country,

    • 4
      2

      “So many people having reaction and illness after having Chinese jab”
      Really?
      Are millions of Brazilians, Hungarians and Chileans are keeping it a secret?

      • 3
        0

        SJ
        It’s not recommend by WHO the countries you mentioned us are same lot,our folks most of our 6.9 flock to get Kalli paneer even our health minister speaker etc we are in last resort looking for miracles

        • 3
          1

          c
          Sorry to disappoint you that none of the countries are in the same league as Sri Lanka.
          Hungary is member of EU.
          Brazil has very close ties with the US. In fact it was not very cooperative with Chinese trials after an unrelated death and many were gloating that it was the end of the road for Sinovac.
          Chile is not nearly the closest to China in South America.
          All three used Chinese vaccines as their main vaccine, and had no complaints.
          *
          Look at
          https://covid19.trackvaccines.org/vaccines/7/
          *
          All vaccines have minor side effects for a significant number. But Sonopharm vaccines did not incur a fraction of the the trouble with AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna, all of which led to a few deaths.
          It helps to keep an open mind.

          • 2
            1

            Have any one got analytical evidence to show a comparison of different vaccines in terms of efficiency, side effects, blood clots, and death?
            SJ, Do you have a analytical report from China on vaccines?

            • 0
              0

              A
              You are asking the wrong person.
              There are plenty of China experts around, and even you display much expertise.

  • 6
    0

    “We are now writing to urge and call upon you to please ensure that this vaccine is distributed in a completely transparent and planned manner to those citizens who received the first AstraZeneca vaccine” ALSO IN A TRANSPARENT AND PLANNED MANNER!

    • 3
      1

      M
      True
      There will be much transparency if the Public Health Services is given a free hand.

  • 4
    2

    This is a regime that has FAILED the people. It is now messing with the health of the Sri Lankan people, by playing God with these vaccines. There is absolutely no oversight, and the politicians are putting themselves, their families, and cronies, above the people who desperately need their second shot.
    The world is watching this circus, and we cannot blame them if they are reluctant to help us. We have incompetent, corrupt fools, as leaders.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

    For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 0
    0

    Sri Lanka to combine Astrazeneca with Pfizer vaccine. The government has sought advice of the Advisory Committee on Communicable Disease on the possibility of using Pfizer-biotech as second shot for Sri Lankans who received Astrazeneca.

    • 2
      0

      Dog,
      .
      as said above, there are no sufficient clinical data for a combination of two vaccines. Sputnik V is going to be a vaccine of that nature but not with any other vaccines.
      :
      If allergic reactions would be the case, Rajapaksehs will have the chance to make their dreams come true, which is HUMAN FLESH and BONEs be avilable in their supermarket chains across the SINO-SRILANKA of the day.

      There are reliable news clips which say that govt hospital have not provided the jabs going by international standards. untrained nurses and rajapakshe dogs are said to have violated the rules. All these wer emade known to the people prior to Nov 2019.
      As of today, b### s sons have looted it to the core.

  • 0
    0

    @leelagemalli

    Three studies have been done. Spanish, German and UK. A Russian study of mixing Astra with Sputnik is on going. The data suggests mix and match may give higher antibody levels than two doses of a single vaccine. Some countries have already mixed and matched vaccines effectively.

    Prof. Neelika Malavige, the head of the Department of Immunology, University of Sri Jayewardenepura stated mix and match of AstraZeneca and Pfizer/Moderna is possible and Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry is currently considering it.

    What you have to worry is getting fatal blood clots from Astra (rare but possible) than mixing.

    Mixing vaccines in not a new concept. It has been done before such as for Ebola.

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