Bhutan’s success story: More than half its population vaccinated in 16 days!3 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
As the world enters its deadly second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, countries all over are scrambling to get their citizens vaccinated. The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is setting an example for the rest of the world thanks to its speed and efficiency. Just days after it started its vaccination drive, the country has already managed to vaccinate 93% of its adult population, and 62% of its overall population.
The total population of Bhutan is close to 800,000 people.
From the very first day, the vaccination drive carried out by Bhutan surpassed those in the US, Israel and other countries that were known for speedy vaccination drives. While those countries took months to streamline their campaigns, Bhutan managed to nearly finish vaccinating most of its adult population in just 16 days!
Now, the little country, nestled in between Indian and China, is just behind Seychelles in its vaccine rollout, which has managed to inject 66% of its entire population of 100,000 people.
What’s behind Bhutan’s success?
Though Bhutan has a relatively small population to start with, the success of its vaccination drive has been attributed to dedicated citizen volunteers. These volunteers, called ‘desuups’, helped make the whole process a lot smoother.
Bhutan received its first 150,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India back in January. However, the shots only started being administered in late March because it was scheduled to coincide with some auspicious days in Buddhist astrology.
The government reportedly consulted with Buddhist monks who said the campaign should be postponed by two months and that the first jab should be both administered and received by women born in the Year of the Monkey. The Monkey is the ninth in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac. The Chinese zodiac, known as Sheng Xiao or Shu Xiang, features 12 animal signs in this order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. This calendar, with a history of more than 2,000 years, plays an essential role in Chinese culture.
The first dose was given to a 30-year-old woman. Dr Pandup Tshering, secretary to the Ministry of Health, said vaccines were still being provided to those who could not get it during the campaign period, and that the country had enough doses to cover its entire population.
Sources: The Hindu, NPR