The Health Protection Agency (HPA), on Saturday, commenced administering the COVID-19 vaccine to all high-risk individuals above the age of 18 and all individuals older than 55.
According to the agency, vaccination services would be available from four locations in the capital city of Male'. This includes the Social Centre, Vilimale Youth Centre, Islamic Centre and the Hulhumale Vaccination Centre.
Maldives officially commenced its vaccine roll-out on February 1 after receiving a donation of 100,000 doses of the COVISHIELD vaccine from the Indian government. The donation constitutes enough doses to inoculate 50,000 individuals.
The Maldives Food and Drug Authority (MFDA) approved the India-gifted COVISHIELD vaccines for restricted use in "emergency situations", defined by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, subjected to various regulatory provisions.
COVISHIELD was manufactured by the world's largest vaccine producer Serum Institute of India, using a formula prepared in a collaborative effort by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. British Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency approved the vaccine on December 30, 2020.
After a long period of recording low numbers towards the end of 2020, Maldives is now experiencing its third wave of the coronavirus, with the introduction of the highly contagious virus variant initially identified in the United Kingdom.
In response to the spike in numbers, HPA tightened several safety measures including the introduction of a new curfew in the capital region, which prohibits civilians from roads and public spaces between 2300 to 0430 hrs, while vehicle movements are banned between 1800 to 0600 hrs.
Currently, the island nation records a total of 17,716 virus cases of which 2,360 are active cases, in addition to 15,291 recoveries and 58 deaths.
On March 12, 2020, WHO classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. To date, the new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 109 million people and claimed over 2.4 million lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 81.2 million people have recovered.