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Plans to begin COVID19 vaccinations this month: Minister

13 January 2021, MVT 13:35
Health Minister Ahmed Naseem revealed to Mihaaru News that the doling out of COVID19 vaccinations are hoped to commence before the end of January. PHOTO: HEALTH MINISTRY
13 January 2021, MVT 13:35

Health Minister Ahmed Naseem, on Tuesday, said that work was underway to commence COVID19 vaccinations in the country.

During an interview given to local media outlet ‘Mihaaru News’, the health minister revealed that the state was targeting to start giving out the vaccine before January-end.

Nevertheless, Minister Naseem did not provide additional details thus the particular brand of vaccine that the government is looking to acquire remains unclear.

In a previous statement, however, the government revealed that it is moving to sign an agreement with a Singapore-based company to obtain the vaccine.

The statement, signed by Minister of Finance Ibrahim Ameer and publicised on December 31, 2020, confirmed that the government plans to work with Astrazeneca Singapore Pte Ltd to procure vaccines that prevent COVID19 infections.

Addressing the high global demand for the medicine, the minister interacted that its availability can only be assured via specific supply sources. He added that the relevant authorities deemed the vaccine a necessary purchase to protect Maldivians from further infection.

Speaking at a press conference held at the Health Emergency Operations Centre in December 2020, member of their Technical Advisory Group Dr Nazla stated that once a vaccine was obtained, shots would be given first to essential workers on the front lines and other persons deemed to be ‘high risk’.

The vaccine touted by Astrazeneca was developed with England’s Oxford University. After passing trials, the United Kingom’s Medicines and Healthcare-products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved use of the vaccine on December 30, 2020.

Last Monday, the UK government began administering doses as per their priority listing. Reportedly, the country has, at this time, ordered 100 million doses of the new vaccine.

The Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus (known as an adenovirus) from chimpanzees. It has been modified to look more like coronavirus - although it can't cause illness.

When the vaccine is injected into a patient, it prompts the immune system to start making antibodies and primes it to attack any coronavirus infection.

Research has shown the vaccine to be safe, provoking an immune response in people of all ages, including the those over the age of 55.

Interim data published in November suggests 70 percent protection, but the researchers say the figure may be as high as 90 percent by tweaking the dose. The results are seen as a triumph, but follows results of up to 95 percent indicated by the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Founded in 1990, Astrazeneca Singapore’s line of business includes the wholesale distribution of prescription drugs, proprietary drugs, and toiletries.

At present, Maldives records a total of 14,218 virus cases of which 760 are active cases, in addition to 13,402 recoveries and 49 deaths.

On March 12, WHO classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. To date, the new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 92 million people and claimed over 1.9 million lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 65.8 million people have recovered.

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