Bhutan vaccinates 93% of adults in 16 days
When plotted on a graph, the curve of Bhutan's COVID-19 vaccination drive shoots upwards from the very first day, crossing Israel, United States, Bahrain, and other countries vaccinating people rapidly. Those countries took months to reach where they are, painstakingly strengthening their vaccination campaigns amid rising coronavirus cases. But the story of Bhutan's vaccination campaign is nearly finished just 16 days after it began.
Bhutan has vaccinated 62% of its total population
The tiny Himalayan kingdom wedged between India and China has vaccinated nearly 93 percent of its adult population since March 27. Overall, the country has vaccinated 62 percent of its 800,000 people. The rapid roll-out of the vaccine puts the tiny nation just behind Seychelles, which has given jabs to 66 percent of its population of nearly 100,000 people.
Success credited to its small population and citizen volunteers
Its small population helped Bhutan move fast, but its success has also been attributed to its dedicated citizen volunteers, known as desuups, and established cold chain storage used during earlier vaccination drives. Bhutan received its first 150,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from neighboring India in January, but the shots were distributed beginning in late March to coincide with auspicious dates in Buddhist astrology.
Ninda Dema was the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine
The first dose was given to a woman born in the Year of the Monkey, accompanied by chants of Buddhist prayers. "Let this small step of mine today help us all prevail through this illness," the recipient, 30-year-old Ninda Dema said. Dr. Pandup Tshering, secretary to the Ministry of Health, said that the country had enough doses to cover its entire population.
Schools and other educational institutes remain open
Bhutan has recorded 910 coronavirus infections and one COVID-19 death so far. It has a mandatory 21-day quarantine for all people arriving in the country. All schools and educational institutions are open and are monitored for compliance with COVID-19 protocols. Bhutan is the last remaining Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas. But the country has transitioned from an absolute monarchy to a democratic, constitutional monarchy.