Maldives’s President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has thanked the Indian government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the country got 100,000 doses of India manufactured covid vaccine on Wednesday. The Maldives got the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India –Covishield as a gift from India. The gift was sent to Male within 96 hours of its India’s countrywide roll-out.
Addressing the nation, President Solih said, “This vaccine is a generous donation from the Government of India to the people of the Maldives. On behalf of the people and the Government of the Maldives, and in my own name, I thank the friendly people and the Government of India, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
Adding,” With the Grace of Almighty Allah, we can confirm that we have secured enough vaccines for the Maldives. Our goal is to provide free vaccines to all Maldivians and residents in the coming months.”
The consignment of vaccines was handed over to Maldives Government by Indian High Commissioner Sunjay Sudhir in a special ceremony held at Male’ airport. Present on the occasion were Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid and Health Minister Ahmed Naseem.
Speaking on the occasion, the Indian high commissioner said, “With the support of India, Maldives will be able to launch the inoculation drive so early on in the global fight against COVID pandemic”. Highlighting, the “arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine in the Maldives today, marks another milestone in our bilateral relations, that now serve as a model in South Asia.” At the ceremony, the Maldives foreign minister Abdulla Shahid spoke in Hindi calling India a “dost” (friend) and recalled how New Delhi helped bring back stranded Maldivians in Wuhan, sent medicines amid the pandemic.
The Maldives with a population of 500,000 will be benefitting by the supplies from India. The government of Maldives has proposed to purchase 300,000 doses of vaccine from Serum Institute of India. The vaccine given by India will be used to inoculate frontline healthcare workers, the elderly, and those with co-morbidities.
Sources from the Indian High Commission in the Maldives said, “In addition to the doses gifted on wednesay, India will also assist the Maldives in securing supplies of vaccines at affordable rates from Indian manufacturing companies”. They also pointed out that by “by delivering Covid vaccine within days of its rollout, India has once again demonstrated its willingness and ability to act as a First Responder to crises in the Maldives.”
Amid the pandemic last year, New Delhi reached out to Male with supplies of medicines, food and also sent a 14 member rapid response team consisting of doctors and paramedics. In April 2020, India launched operation Sanjeevani with an Indian air force plane airlifting 6.2 tonnes of essential medical supplies to the country. Under mission Sagar one of the Indian Navy, India reached out to 5 Indian ocean countries including the Maldives. Indian Navy Ship Kesari delivered 600 tons of food items to the Indian Ocean island country.
The covid pandemic had a major impact on the country’s tourism-driven economy as well. In September 2020, India extended urgent financial assistance of US$ 250 million to the Maldives through investment by SBI in the Government of Maldives bonds. That was the first assistance package of such a magnitude announced by the Indian govt to any country to deal with the COVID pandemic.
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