Maldives has launched a nation-wide COVID-19 vaccination program today, renewing hopes of return to a post-pandemic normalcy soon.

Last week, Maldives received 100,000 doses of the CoviShield vaccine manufactured by Serium Institute of India (SII). CoviShield is mass-produced in accordance to the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine formula.

The Maldives Food and Drug Authority (MFDA) approved emergency usage of CoviShield vaccine on January 26, 2021, following technical considerations and consultations from the National Pharmaceutical Board.

Today, vaccination drives were launched in the Greater Malé Area , and the southern and northern cities of Addu (Addu Equatorial Hospital) and Kulhudhuffushi (Kulhudhuffushi Regional Hospital), and will be gradually rolled out in other areas too.

A healthcare worker preparing CoviShield vaccine for injection -- (Photo/PRESIDENCY MALDIVES)

The first three recipient of the CoviShield vaccine in the Maldives today were two healthcare workers and one diabetes patient. They were followed by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed, Chief Justice Mohamed Muthasim Adnan and several government Ministers.

The vaccination drives take place in all tertiaery hospitals in Malé, Addu Equatorial Hospital in Addu City, and Kulhudhuffushi Regional Hospital in Kulhudhuffushi City.

Apart from the 100,000 CoviShield vaccine doses received as grant from India, Maldives has also signed an agreement with AstraZeneca Singapore to procure further 700,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

The Maldivian government has pledged to sponsor and administer COVID-19 vaccination for all Maldivians and expats living in the Maldives.