First batch of COVID-19 vaccines to arrive in the Maldives on January 26

The government has revealed the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in the Maldives on January 26.

Minister of Health Ahmed Naseem had earlier indicated efforts are ongoing to procure COVID-19 vaccines to the Maldives before the end of January. An official active in the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines to the Maldives confirmed that the first batch of vaccines is set to arrive on January 26.

The government had earlier announced the decision to begin COVID-19 vaccination in the Maldives in the first quarter of 2021. It was revealed that the Maldives will receive free COVID-19 vaccines for 20% of the population through the COVAX Facility, which was established to guarantee fair and equitable access to the vaccine for every country in the world. Health Emergency Operation Centre (HEOC) revealed 3% from that said percentage is allocated for frontline workers, while the remaining 17% is allocated for people aged 50 and above and for patients seeking treatment for long term diseases.

On December 31, Ministry of Finance announced the government has decided to procure enough vaccines to vaccinate the entire population of the Maldives. The finance ministry said the vaccines will be procured through AstraZeneca Singapore, noting an agreement will be signed between the company and the Maldivian government. The ministry said exemptions have been applied to the state procurement policies to procure the COVID-19 vaccines to the Maldives, as the vaccines are only available through limited sources and are being issued around the world under special procurement policies.

Meanwhile, HEOC has revealed efforts are underway to develop cold storages to store and maintain COVID-19 vaccines in the Maldives. HEOC said the areas for the development of cold storages in Male’ and the atolls have now been allocated. HEOC has also stated it is working with World Health Organisation (WHO) in procuring the walk-in freezers, cold rooms and coolers required for the cold storages.