A national drug regulatory authority member who stood strongly against approving COVID-19 vaccines, especially the Chinese Sinopharm vial, without data, was sacked by Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi on Friday. Consultant Paediatrician Dr. LakKumar Fernando, a Board Member of the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA), was the nominee of the Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians. Not [...]

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Health Minister sacks NMRA expert who opposed vaccine approval without data

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A national drug regulatory authority member who stood strongly against approving COVID-19 vaccines, especially the Chinese Sinopharm vial, without data, was sacked by Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi on Friday.

Consultant Paediatrician Dr. LakKumar Fernando, a Board Member of the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA), was the nominee of the Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians.

Not only as an NMRA board member but also as part of the independent eight-member Panel of Experts on COVID-19 vaccines, Dr. Fernando’s stance has been that Sri Lanka should not approve for emergency-use listing any vaccine without proper data, as then the guinea pigs would be the people of this country.

“We as gatekeepers must ensure the protection of the people for whom we are doing this as a service,” Dr. Fernando, who is also a well-known dengue expert, told the Sunday Times. A very bad precedent is being set, he added.

“What the NMRA has been requesting over and again is for Phase 3 efficacy and safety data, as we need to follow the right protocols,” said Dr. Fernando, adding that this was also what the World Health Organisation (WHO) was asking for.

The NMRA has been embroiled in controversy over the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, with the first four sackings of NMRA Board Members taking place on March 8, followed soon after by the resignation of the NMRA Chairperson, Prof. Asita de Silva.

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