Thoughts on Sinovac—Its approval and whether we should use it

I was asked the other day for my thoughts on the local approval and use of Sinovac, so just sharing my general take on this. Sinovac was given an emergency use license (EUL) by our Sri Lanka NMRA on 16 July 2021,  six weeks after WHO had given its EUL (1 Jun 2021). We have not since purchased it as far as I know and certainly not used it, so why? Continue reading

Some thoughts on vaccination

I’ve been asked several times what I think of the government’s vaccination strategy. This is not easy to answer, because the strategy is neither transparent nor explained well. Recent events have shown also that there is conflict within even MOH in implementing it. I know that many officials within MOH are trying to do their best, but it’s also evident that they face huge internal difficulties in crafting and implementing a sensible approach.

As I have said previously, Minister Dr Sudarshini Fernandopulle and Dr Amal Harsha De Silva should be commended for clearly saying that the aim is to cover most Sri Lankans and not to rely only on free COVAX donations. But I still have concerns about what the overall goals are, plus whether risks have been properly factored into the assessment of what is an optimal strategy. I also suspect that our typical bureaucratic processes may not be fast or adaptive enough to manage the uncertainties and rapid changes in information that we are seeing. Continue reading

Health guidelines for the Tourism Pilot Project

The health guidelines or protocol to be followed when allowing in tourists with relaxed quarantine procedures has been reported on in the media. A copy of what I believe are the guidelines is linked here:
Health Guidelines for Tourism Pilot Project

These guidelines appear to be issued by the Minister of Tourism and were sent to the Chairperson of the SLTDA on 27 December 2020. Continue reading

EconomyNext interview about vaccines (20 December 2020)

I gave a hurried interview to EconomyNext about vaccines, which they used in their new article here, published on 20 December 2020.

I need to write properly on this. But bottom line: vaccines are no magic bullet. Continue reading

Just published in Health Affairs! Our global study of the impact of PCR testing on COVID-19 transmission

Big news! I am pleased to share that our global study of the impact of PCR testing on COVID-19 transmission was just published in USA by Health Affairs:

Ravi P. Rannan-Eliya, Nilmini Wijemunige, JRNA Gunawardana, Sarasi N. Amarasinghe, Ishwari Sivagnanam, Sachini Fonseka, Yasodhara Kapuge, and Chathurani P. Sigera. 2021. Increased Intensity Of PCR Testing Reduced COVID-19 Transmission Within Countries During The First Pandemic Wave. Health Affairs, 2021 (January).
Continue reading

We can’t prevent new outbreaks unless we understand why we did not stop the current one

Once again, emphatic declarations are being made that there is zero risk of new COVID-19 clusters, just as earlier there were declarations that we had defeated COVID-19. I don’t have such confidence, because I see no evidence that the errors that allowed the current outbreaks to happen have been rectified. Continue reading

Effectiveness of face-masks in controlling COVID-19—and why PCR testing might be cheaper

I recently tweeted that most people in Sydney in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. don’t wear masks and they seem to be doing just fine—zero cases of local transmission in past two weeks despite 200,000 tests. One twitter user was bothered by my nonchalance and asked not unreasonably for links to the evidence … Continue reading

I am also tweeting…

I have avoided joining Twitter and most social media until now. But it’s a useful channel to share thoughts which I don’t have time to write properly in this blog, and it does reach a wider and different audience. I will tweet blog posts in future if I think they deserve a wider audience, but the more substantive thoughts will remain here. Link here to my twitter account. Continue reading

Why did Jathika Chintanaya not save us from Western COVID thinking by taking PCR testing seriously?

As we as a nation and the government grope for answers on how to best tackle our second COVID-19 wave, there is no global consensus amongst experts or even amongst countries as to what are the most effective interventions or even what the goal is.  Continue reading

The virus may be spreading much faster than official data suggest

The daily case reports from the Epidemiology Unit are the only data we have to assess the spread of the virus. A better measure would be a regularly updated or “now-casted” estimate of the current effective reproduction number (Reff), but the Epidemiology Unit does not publish this, and I have no idea if they estimate it on a regular basis. If they do, then maybe the spirit of the RTI legislation should encourage them to share it.

The data we do have are not reassuring. Continue reading