'Maldives not looking to sign agreement with China for vaccines'

Health Minister Ahmed Naseem has stated that the Maldives will not be purchasing COVID-19 vaccines from China.

In an interview given to India's Times of India, Minister Naseem said the Maldives is not looking to sign any commercial agreement with China for vaccines.

China had donated 200,000 doses of Sinopharm to the Maldives. Over 78,000 people in the Maldives received the first dose of the Sinopharm vaccine while over 45,000 people have completed the full two doses of the vaccine.

The majority of those who received the COVID-19 vaccine in the Maldives received the Covishield vaccine manufactured by India under a special license by AstraZeneca. However, vaccine manufacturer, Serum Institute of India has not been able to provide vaccine doses under its agreement the Maldives after India effectively banned vaccine export to meet its own vaccine requirement. Due to this, the Maldives' vaccine program is facing interruption. According to the minister, 109,737 people out of the 228,653 individuals who received Covishield's first dose are waiting to receive the second dose of the vaccine.

The Maldives has ordered 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from Singapore. Minister Naseem said the AstraZeneca vaccine is interchangeable with Covishield vaccine and can be given as the second dose to those who received Covishield as a first dose, said the minister.