Maldives has made the decision to procure the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and is braced to sign the agreement in the coming days.
Finance Ministry released a ‘public finance declaration’ signed by Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer on Thursday, which states that the Maldivian government has made the decision to sign an agreement with AstraZeneca Singapore PTE LTD to procure the vaccine.
The declaration was released to announce the temporary suspension of some of the provisions of the Public Finance Regulation, citing the vaccine is in high demand due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, is available for procurement only from specific parties, and released globally in accordance with specific procurement policies.
The provisions which will be temporarily suspended are; Article 10.43, Article 10.52, Article 10.67, and Article 10.71 of the Public Finance Regulation.
According to the declaration, provisions will only be suspended with respect to the agreement which will be signed with AstraZeneca for the procurement of the vaccine, and for the duration of the agreement.
Ameer said in the declaration that the Finance Ministry will be conducting an internal audit on spending under the agreement, and ordered for the finance executive at Health Ministry to pay special attention to the spending.
Health Emergency Operations Center (HEOC) has previously stated that Maldives will begin administering COVID-19 vaccine within the first quarter of the coming 2021. Maldives has filed an application for the COVAX Facility, a global initiative to ensure COVID-19 vaccines reach those in greatest need.
Finance Minister said in November that the state budget 2021 offers room to procure and administer COVID-19 vaccines, once they become available.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was authorized by the British Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency for use in the United Kingdom on Wednesday, and is in high demand globally, especially in developing countries.
The vaccine is cheaper and easier to store and distribute than Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which was authorized for use in the UK four weeks back, as they can be stored in standard refrigerators rather than at the ultra-cold or freezer temperatures some other vaccines require.
Trial results suggest that the Oxford-AstraZeneca dose is about 70 percent effective for preventing illness from coronavirus infection. Trials also showed two full doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine were 62 percent effective preventing infection, and also that effectiveness hit 90 percent when people were given a half dose then a full dose.
UK has authorized administering two full doses, with the second dose administered 12 weeks after the first dose.
The price of an Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine dose is USD 4 (MVR 61.68).
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has pledged to provide COVID-19 vaccine to everyone living in Maldives for free.