Bhutan fully vaccinates 90% population in one week, Unicef lauds 'success story'

Bhutan started vaccinating its population with the second dose of the Covid-19 shot from July 20 and within seven days i.e. by July 27 (Tuesday), 90% of the entire population had been fully vaccinated, said the country's health ministry.
This photograph provided by Unicef shows airport personnel in protective suits handle unloaded consignment as 500,000 doses of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine gifted from the United States arrived at Paro International Airport in Bhutan, July 12, 2021. (Unicef via AP)
This photograph provided by Unicef shows airport personnel in protective suits handle unloaded consignment as 500,000 doses of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine gifted from the United States arrived at Paro International Airport in Bhutan, July 12, 2021. (Unicef via AP)
Published on Jul 28, 2021 10:27 AM IST
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Written by Joydeep Bose, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Bhutan has set a new record for its nationwide coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccination drive, managing to inoculate 90% of its entire population with both doses of the anti-Covid shot in a matter of just seven days. According to Bhutan's health ministry, the vaccines that were received from foreign donations were used up in this inoculation drive.

Bhutan, situated between India and China, has a population of less than eight lakh. The Himalayan kingdom started vaccinating its population with the second dose of the Covid-19 shot from July 20 and within seven days i.e. by July 27 (Tuesday), 90% of the entire population had been fully vaccinated, said the country's health ministry.

The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) praised the rapid vaccination rate against Covid-19 in Bhutan and called it a "great success story".

“We really need a world in which the countries which have surplus vaccines really do donate to those countries that haven’t received (shots) so far,” news agency AFP quoted Will Parks, Unicef's Bhutan representative, as saying. “And if there’s anything that I hope the world that can learn, is that a country like Bhutan with very few doctors, very few nurses, but a really committed king and leadership in the government mobilising society – it’s not impossible to vaccinate the whole country.”

Bhutan had quickly used up the 550,000 AstraZeneca jabs donated by India back in March and early April for the first vaccine shots to its citizenry. However, due to a subsequent surge in Covid-19 infections in India, the exports were halted, which eventually led to a growing time gap between the first and the second doses.

Bhutan later launched an appeal for donations, following which several Western countries sent Covid-19 vaccine doses to the Himalayan nation. Around half a million Moderna doses arrived from the United States soon, followed by 250,000 AstraZeneca shots from Denmark in mid-July.

China, Bulgaria, Croatia, and other nations are also expected to send more than 150,000 doses of the AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Sinopharm vaccines to Bhutan soon.

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Monday, October 18, 2021