With an effective diplomatic strategy and a standard vaccine storage infrastructure, Bhutan has completed two doses of vaccine for nearly 90% of adults in a short period of time.
Less than two weeks ago, a flight carrying half a million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine took off from Kentucky in the US and landed at Bhutan International Airport. Earlier, by June 25, most adults in the remote Himalayan country had received two doses of the vaccine against COVID-19.
The daily visit of 12 July is the result of a weeklong diplomatic mission. According to Will Parks, a representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Bhutanese government has called on 28 countries to provide vaccines for the country’s second round of vaccination.
Vaccines from the US are distributed through a global sharing system, Covax. Denmark sends 250,000 doses of AstraZeneca directly. Bulgaria, Croatia and other countries send 100,000 doses. China donated 50,000 doses of Sinopharm. The second highest dose was given last week from government employees to farmers.
Bhutan’s success is remarkable because its vaccination campaign in the poorest countries is mostly struggling. Rich countries delay vaccine distribution, widening inequalities in pandemic response. Analysts call this a failure of both ethics and epistemology.
Lisa Herzog, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, said: “I hope this good news will serve as an incentive to the international community. They need to do more to share vaccines with poorer countries.” “
Back in March, Bhutan achieved a major milestone: vaccinating more than 93% of eligible adults. It is almost a national miracle that medical workers in some villages can only be reached by helicopter or on foot. But this success also means the government needs to complete a second round of vaccinations within the recommended time between 12 and 16 weeks.
The first batch, Bhutan received 550,000 doses of AstraZeneca, funded by India. But then, the country cut exports due to the severe outbreak of the disease in the country.
UNICEF representative Dr. Will Parks said: “Bhutan has an urgent task to hunt for a vaccine until there are enough numbers in a short period of time for a second batch of vaccinations. Other countries are not in the position. So. Bhutan has vaccinated a lot of people in the first wave, so the second dose has to be on time to be sure.”
Bhutan’s health ministry representative Tashi Yangchen said the second batch of vaccinations ended on July 26. 90.2% of eligible adults received the full dose. Dr Park said the official numbers will increase in the coming days, as inaccessible communities such as nomadic tribes get a second dose.
Dr. Parks noted the leadership of the government, the Royal Palace of Bhutan, low levels of vaccine skepticism and the rigid cold storage infrastructure. According to him, the success of the first round of vaccination proves that a country of 800,000 people can effectively and quickly deploy a second wave.
“Some countries, which have difficulty deploying available vaccines, have not been able to answer the question ‘If we get more vaccines, how effectively will we use it? Mr. Parks explained.
Bhutan currently has 2,500 nCoV infections and two deaths recorded. Unlike other South Asian countries, this country implements vaccination very early. Bhutan’s first vaccination campaign was launched on 27 March and by 8 April 93% of adults had been vaccinated.
thuk linho (Obey new York Times)
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