27 percent of those who received COVISHIELD vaccine awaiting 2nd dose

The Health Emergency Operation Centre (HEOC) has stated that 27 percent of those who received the first dose of the COVISHIELD vaccine have not received the second dose due to the interruption in vaccine supply.

The Maldives was using the COVISHIELD vaccine manufactured by India's Serum Insitute under a special license issued by AstraZeneca. The archipelago received 312,000 doses of the vaccine, including 200,000 doses gifted by the Indian government and another 100,000 doses purchased by the Maldives government. 12,000 doses were received under the COVAX Facility. The Maldives did not reserve the final dose of the vaccine for those who received the first dose, depending on assurance provided by the Indian government that vaccine supply would not be interrupted.

However, India faced a devastating wave of COVID-19 infections after which the country halted the export of vaccines to ensure enough stock to meet local needs. Due to the unforeseen interruption to vaccine supply, the Maldives ran out of COVISHILED doses, and over 100,000 people who received the first dose could not get the final dose.

When asked regarding the number of people who are yet to receive the second dose of the COVISHIELD vaccine, HEOC's Spokesperson, Dr. Fathimath Nazla Rafeeq said 27 percent of people who received the first dose have exceeded the recommended duration between both doses, and are yet to be fully vaccinated. She did not provide further details.

The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) team of HEOC had decided that the second dose of the vaccine must be administered between 8 to 12 weeks after the first dose is received. The duration between the two doses was later extended to 16 weeks. Later, the head of the vaccine program, Dr. Ahmed Faisal said the World Health Organization has advised that the second dose can be received up to six months before having to restart the vaccine course.