Maldives to source 200,000 Sputnik V vaccine doses from Russia

A vial with Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in a medical room, in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. Thousands of doctors, teachers and others in high-risk groups have signed up for COVID-19 vaccinations in Moscow starting Saturday, a precursor to a sweeping Russia-wide immunization effort. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has stated that the government has decided to order a shipment of the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia. This was because the government was unsure of when the Astrazeneca vaccine would be received by the Maldives. 

The President was speaking in a press conference currently underway when he said that the reason for the shipment order was because the government did not have an exact date for receiving the next shipment of the Covishield (Astrazeneca-Oxford University) vaccine. 

Health Minister Ahmed Naseem who was also taking part in the press conference said that he is hopeful that the Maldives could receive the next shipment of the Covishield vaccine by June. 

The President said that the agreement signing procedures were now underway for the order of 200,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine. Health Minister Naseem then added that the vaccine shipment would be sent within four weeks of signing the agreement. The advice of the Attorney General's Office was now being sought for the agreement. 

President Solih also said that the Maldives was in discussions with a number of nations over vaccine supply. He said that despite the efforts, the entire world was faced with vaccine shortages. 

The Maldives has an agreement with Astrazeneca in Singapore for 700,000 vaccine doses. However, Minister Naseem said tonight that there were delays to the shipment of the vaccine from Astrazeneca which could see the Maldives receive the vaccine at a later date than what was originally thought. 

"At first, we were supposed to get it by early June. So we were very comfortable. But now, I don't think we will receive it by early June. But, I have high hopes that we would receive it in June. We are working with that," said the Minister. 

He added that Astrazeneca had handed over the clearance work of the shipment to the local agent as well, but had no way of shipping the doses, which was why the delays were faced.