The Maldives government has revealed that 26,400 people who received the first dose of the COVISHIELD are awaiting the second dose of the vaccine.
The Maldives has temporarily halted its vaccine program as the the COVISHIELD stock available in the Maldives has run low. While neighboring India's virus situation has worsened dramatically, there are several challenges to procuring more vaccines from India. Although the Maldives is using three different vaccines for the vaccine program, only 1,700 doses of COVISHIELD are currently available. Health experts recommend a duration of eight to twelve weeks between the administration of the vaccines' two doses in order to receive maximum protection against the vaccine.
Spokesperson at the President's Office, Mohamed Mabrook Azeez said there are 26,400 people who are due to receive the second dose of the COVISHIELD vaccine. The number would keep increasing day by day, said Mabrook. Out of these, the recommended 12 weeks in-between vaccines are up for a large number of people, and the exact numbers are now being tallied, he added.
Mabrook said the government had hoped to continue the vaccine program without any interruptions and that the Maldives was scheduled to receive an additional 100,000 vaccine doses from India this week. However, the current situation in India poses challenges to meeting the schedule, he added.
The government is working tirelessly to procure more vaccine doses from different sources. While the government purchased 700,000 vaccine doses from AstraZeneca Singapore, it purchased an additional 300,000 doses of COVISHIELD from India. While 100,000 doses out of these 300,000 doses have already been delivered, none of the vaccines ordered from AstraZeneca have reached Maldives to date. The first shipment from AstraZeneca is expected in June. Mabrook said the government hopes to receive more vaccines within the next two weeks and resume the vaccine program.
While only 1,700 doses of the COVISHIELD vaccine are available, the vaccines are currently stored as reserves. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has said that although the vaccine program is suspended, the vaccines in the reserve will be administered under special circumstances. The authority did not provide details on what counts as 'special circumstances'.
Mabrook said the government acknowledges that the public should be aware of the arrangements for the remaining 1700 doses of the vaccine. He hinted that the government would soon announce the details of the arrangements.
The Maldives is facing a fourth wave of the virus, and test kits to detect the infection are of utmost importance at this time. The government has assured that it would ensure that the country has ample stock of test kits. Currently, over 4000 to 5000 tests are carried out daily. Mabrook said the Maldives has an adequate amount of test kits available at this time. 873,000 test kits are currently available and an additional 100,000 kits will arrive on May 14th, said Mabrook.