Bhutan close to vaccinating its entire population after just 16 days of starting.
Image Credit: AFP
Bhutan, a small country located in the Himalayas between China and India managed to vaccinate 93% of its adult population in 16 days. Overall, 62% of Bhutan’s population of 800,000 have been vaccinated. This makes its vaccination roll-out much faster than Israel, United Kingdom and other countries known to be vaccinating people rapidly. The tiny Himalayan kingdom comes second to Seychelles in the world in its rapid vaccination. Seychelles managed to vaccinate 66% of its 100,000 population so far.
Back in January, Bhutan received its first 150,000 doses of Astrazeneca, but it was not until March 27th when the first doses were administered. Bhutan officials waited two months to distribute the doses to coincide the start of vaccinations with auspicious dates in Buddhist astrology.
The country’s success in rapidly vaccinating its public was attributed to its small population, but also due to what is known as ‘desuups’. These are citizen volunteers that aided medical staff in speeding up vaccinations. Bhutan had only 37 doctors and 3,000 healthcare workers before the pandemic began. Desuups made the difference, as they supported the medical staff non-stop. The country also had a number of established cold-chain storage facilities used during earlier vaccination drives.
The country which is considered to be in general poor, but has improved a lot in the last decade. It is the last Buddhist Kingdom in the Himalayas, and transitioned from absolute monarchy to democracy in 2007.
Since the pandemic began, Bhutan had only 910 cases and one death. It has a mandatory 21-day quarantine for anyone that arrives in the country. Schools and educational institutions have been left open but are constantly monitored for compliance with COVID-19 regulations.