Maldives to become first foreign country to receive Covishield doses
Maldives is set to become the first foreign country to receive COVID-19 vaccines from India. The Asian country will reportedly receive a consignment of Covishield doses on Wednesday. Covishield has been developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII). On Tuesday, India also announced plans to supply vaccines to six key partner nations starting Wednesday.
"Everything is in place including regulatory approvals and permissions on Maldivian side," a government source told The Indian Express. The report mentioned that the consignment was expected to land at Velana International Airport, Malé, via an Air India flight at 2 pm. The number of doses sent will be enough to cover frontline health workers and senior citizens, the source said.
The Maldives, which has a population of about 4.5 lakh, is now the largest COVID-19 assistance recipient in India's neighborhood, including medicine supply, food supply, medical team, training, and financial assistance of $250 million, the report added.
Three people in the know told Mint that India is considering donating around 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to countries India has friendly relations with. Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, and Seychelles will be the first recipient countries to get the vaccines in a phased manner keeping in view the domestic requirements. The vaccines will reportedly include both Covishield and Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN.
Two million Covishield doses are likely to be donated to Bangladesh as early as Wednesday, a second source said. This may be a part of the 30 million Covishield doses that SII plans to sell to Bangladesh as part of an existing deal.
Another official said, "The Health Ministry is giving an overview of how many doses can be manufactured and how many are needed in India. While exports are permitted even now, we've not yet taken a decision on it." "The External Affairs Ministry will take a final call on how many doses it will procure and send to which friendly country and when," they said.
India has procured 16.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, including 11 million Covishield shots. It plans to secure more shots later this month. In the first phase of vaccinations, India is planning to inoculate 30 million healthcare and frontline workers. In the second phase—expected to be completed by August—people above 50 years of age and those below 50 but with severe comorbidities will be vaccinated.