The Sri Lankan government said Wednesday it has asked the Japanese government to provide COVID-19 vaccine and has received a "positive response."

The request for 600,000 doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca Plc of Britain was made by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, according to the president's media division.

Photo shows bottles of COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford. (Photo courtesy of AstraZeneca)(Kyodo)

Sri Lanka's strategic position makes it vital to securing vital sea lanes in the Indian Ocean, but China has a strong influence on economic assistance to the island nation.

The Japanese government provided Taiwan with 1.24 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine free-of-charge last Friday and is also considering donating vaccine to Vietnam where infections are spreading.

While Japan has secured enough AstraZeneca doses for 60 million people and approved their use last month, it does not intend to use them immediately in public inoculation programs due to rare cases of blood clots reported overseas.

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