In just one week, India's neighbouring nation Bhutan fully vaccinated 90% of its entire population against coronavirus infection, setting a new record for its COVID-19 inoculation drive. Bhutan achieved this milestone with the vaccines it received through foreign donations, the nation's health ministry said.
Bhutan, which also borders China, started vaccination of its population of less than eight lakh with the second dose of COVID vaccine from July 20. Bhutan's health ministry said that by July 27, Tuesday, i.e., within seven days, 90% of the entire population had received the second shot of the COVID vaccine.
Hailing the move, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) called the rapid COVID vaccination rate in Bhutan 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,” said Will Parks, Unicef's Bhutan representative, quoted news agency AFP.
He added, “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 received 550,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from India in March and early April, and the nation inoculated its citizens with the first jabs. However, after the second wave struck India in April and cases increased exponentially, the exports of vaccines were halted, due to which Bhutan witnessed a growing time gap between the first and the second vaccine doses.
Later, Bhutan appealed to nations for donations, after which several Western nations joined hands in sending COVID vaccine shots to the Himalayan nation. The US sent nearly half a million doses of Moderna vaccine to Bhutan while Denmark sent 250,000 jabs of AstraZeneca in mid-July. Covishield in the Indian version of AstraZeneca. It was developed in Pune's Serum Institute in collaboration with Oxford University.
After the US and Denmark, other nations will follow suit as China, Bulgaria, Croatia are expected to send over 150,000 doses of the AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Sinopharm vaccines to Bhutan soon.