AstraZeneca vaccine's first dose will be administered until Sept 1

The Health Emergency Operation Centre (HEOC) has stated that the Singapore-manufactured AstraZeneca vaccine will be administered in the Maldives until September 1.

Speaking at a press conference held by the center on Thursday, Spokesperson of HEOC, Dr. Fathmath Nazla Rafeeq said the number of people turning up at vaccine centers to receive their shots is still not satisfactory. According to the latest numbers, 4,492 individuals have received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine thus far. While the AstraZeneca vaccine is also being administered in place of the second dose of the India-manufactured COVISHIELD vaccine, 12,243 people have received AstraZeneca as the second dose until now, Dr. Nazla said.

'The reason we decided not to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine from September 1 is that the number of people who require the vaccine is less, we have the required capacity, and the current demand trends show we can complete administering the first dose of the vaccine by the specified date,' Dr. Nazla said.

The Spokesperson further explained that the vaccines can be safely stored for six months and that the vaccines should be used by then. Vaccines are received after their quality is checked post-production, and therefore, the actual duration to use the vaccines will be less than six months, she further noted.

The current stock of vaccines in the Maldives will expire in November. Dr. Nazla said that even if the administration of the first dose will conclude on September 1, more time is required to give the second dose after the first. Therefore, a two-month period should be given between doses before expiry, Nazla said.

'Vaccines are scarce in so many countries, and we have been able to get vaccines. We should make good use of the opportunity,' Nazla said.