Maldives receives Pfizer vaccines and supplies through COVAX, donated by the United States.
Male’, 11 August 2021 – Maldives receives 128,700 doses of Pfizer vaccines, 128,700 syringes (0.3 ml), 21,400 syringes (RUP, 2 ml) and 1,500 safety boxes through the COVAX facility donated by the Government of United States. The vaccines will target children between the ages of 12 – 17, pregnant women and those who are immunocompromised, to ensure they are protected against COVID-19, bolstering the vaccination drive by the Government. In April/May 2021 the country was hit by the third and worst surge of cases where daily case numbers soared above 2,000.
A team led by the Office of the President, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Health, Representatives from the US Government and the United Nations, received the vaccines and supplies on the tarmac at Velana International Airport.
The Minister of Health, Honourable Ahmed Naseem noted that, “with this batch of vaccines, we can now start vaccinating children between the ages of 12 and 17, which would undoubtedly add renewed momentum to our vaccination efforts. I am confident that today’s donation will not only expand our vaccine eligible population thereby decrease the infection rate and fatalities but will also boost overall economic recovery efforts”.
Currently, Sinopharm vaccines are being used to administer the second dose and AstraZeneca vaccines are being used to administer first and second doses to all residents above the age of 18. With a brief delay in the second jab to those who received the Covishield vaccine due to global vaccine supply shortages, the Government of Maldives had resumed the drive to fully vaccinate residents on 4 July 2021.
As of 10 August 2021, around 80% of the eligible population has received the first dose and almost 70% received the second, making the country one of the few which has been able to achieve this impressive result, coming very close to vaccinating everyone eligible against COVID-19.
UNICEF Representative Marjan Montazemi stated that “We are delighted about the news of Maldives receiving additional doses of vaccines, thanks to the generous donation of the United States Government through the COVAX facility. The Maldives has received praise for its inclusive COVID-19 vaccination program which ensure every resident irrespective of nationality receives vaccination against the Coronavirus disease. Surely the timely administration of the vaccines combined with communication and community engagement will go a long way in ensuring that all eligible populations are duly covered and with that children having access to learning at school”.
“In preparation for the Pfizer vaccine; provision of technical guidance including facilitation of EUL, assistance for facilitation of multiple documents, and extensive cold chain support paired with the required trainings and capacity building have been conducted with WHO’s support, whilst providing a supportive supervisory role in the vaccine roll-out process from the very start.” said Dr Nazneen Anwar, WHO Representative. “We are optimistic that the new vaccine shipment donated by the Government of the United States of America through COVAX will be an added asset to bridge any existing gaps to reach the unreached, and increase the total population’s immunization coverage to protect the population, reduce disease severity and hospitalization from SARS-CoV-2 infection. As a trusted partner, WHO will continue to support the Government of Maldives’ lead in the vaccine roll-out. We also acknowledge and applaud the country’s steadfast steps towards recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The UN Resident Coordinator Catherine Haswell noted that, “the UN welcomes the arrival of a new shipment of vaccines in Maldives, donated by the US Government and facilitated by the COVAX facility. Vaccines are safe, effective and our best hope to end the pandemic. The UN stands ready to support efforts by the Government to provide Pfizer vaccines to children above 12 years of age as well as pregnant women. Together, we can ensure safety and protection of all, and recognize the great strides made in the Maldives in reaching 70% of the population being fully vaccinated as of today”.
The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and the consequences and impact of COVID-19 go beyond public health risks associated with a pandemic. From what is observed globally, and, in the Maldives, national recovery efforts need to consider the various but interconnected socioeconomic impacts on access to essential services such as education, learning and health services as well as mental health issues faced by children and adults.
COVAX, the vaccine equity scheme, co-led by Gavi, CEPI and WHO with UNICEF as an implementing partner, ensures that safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines are available to all countries around the world to help end the pandemic as quickly as possible.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and the work it supports in the Maldives, visit www.unicef.org/maldives