Indian authorities have confirmed the consignment of Covid-19 vaccine to Maldives.
Indian news outlet, “Indian Express” earlier on Tuesday reported that the consignment of the Oxford AstraZeneca “Covishield” vaccines will arrive at Velana International Airport (VIA) on Wednesday afternoon.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the ministry noted that the country is dispatching Covid-19 vaccine dosages in keeping with the country’s commitment to use vaccine production and delivery capacity to “help all of humanity” battle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and in light of the multiple requests from neighboring and key partner countries to supply the Covid-19 vaccines, manufactured by India.
As such, it said that supplies under grant assistance will begin on Wednesday, to Maldives as well as Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles. They are awaiting confirmation of necessary regulatory clearances from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius.
Indian authorities have confirmed that the consignment is being airfreighted following green light from the Maldivian authorities, including regulatory approvals and other permits.
The Ministry of External Affairs revealed that a training programme which covers administrative and operational aspects will be conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday, for immunization managers cold chain officers, communication officers and data managers of the countries receiving the consignments, both at national and regional levels.
The immunization programme is being conducted in India and other countries, and the first batch of Covishield vaccines will cover healthcare providers, frontline workers and the most vulnerable.
Promising to continue phasing out the supply of Covid-19 vaccines to partner countries over the weeks and months to come, the ministry noted that they will ensure domestic manufacturers have adequate stocks to meet domestic requirements when vaccination is supplied abroad.
The ministry also reaffirmed that India will continue the supply of Covid-19 vaccines to countries across the world. This will be calibrated against domestic requirements and international demand and obligations, including under GAVI’s Covax facility to developing countries, said the ministry.
Indian Express reported that Maldives will be the first ever country to receive the Covid-19 vaccine from India, developed by the country’s Serum Institute.
This comes shortly after High Commissioner of India to the Maldives, Sunjay Sudhir announced that India will dispatch Covid-19 vaccines to the island nation, after assuring that “hope is arriving in the Maldives, very soon”.
India holds the title of being the first responder to the Maldives in times of crises and emergencies, and this has once again been proven.
Maldives' historic relations with India turned sour during the previous administration, however, the relationship has improved since incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih took over in November 2018. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a short visit to the country to attend Solih's inauguration ceremony, Solih’s first state visit abroad was to India.