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COVID-19: Maldives to administer second dose after 8 weeks

18 February 2021, MVT 17:55
A health worker administers the COVISHIELD vaccine. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/ MIHAARU
18 February 2021, MVT 17:55

Health Emergency Operations Centre (HEOC), on Wednesday, announced that the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine would be administered within an eight week period following the initial dose.

HEOC spokesperson Dr Nazla Rafeeq stated that the decision was finalised with consideration to research and counsel from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Maldives Technical Advisory Group for Immunization (MTAGI).

Despite the ongoing vaccination campaign, Dr Nazla urged citizens to continue observing social distancing and wearing facemasks.

Maldives will begin administering second doses in April as the government 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.

HEOC has revealed that the vaccination programme would continue without allocating a waiting period to administer the second dose to those that have already received the initial shot.

The centre highlighted guarantees that Maldives would receive the vaccine dozes provided under the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s COVAX programme mid-February and the 700,000 doses purchased from AstraZeneca’s Singaporean company in March.

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 pandemic, with the introduction of the United Kingdom’s highly contagious virus variant.

Currently, the island nation records a total of 18,224 virus cases of which 2,391 are active cases, in addition to 15,768 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 110 million people and claimed over 2.4 million lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 85.3 million people have recovered.

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