Bhutan vaccinates all adults against virus

Bhutan had vaccinated almost its entire adult population with a first dose in March.
Bhutan had vaccinated almost its entire adult population with a first dose in March.

Bhutan has completed its anti-coronavirus inoculation campaign by fully vaccinating 100 per cent of its adult population after the international community acted on the country's appeal to donate the necessary doses.

It makes Bhutan the first country in the world to complete both rounds of vaccination for its entire population eligible to get immunised.

"It is very important to acknowledge that the vaccination campaign in Bhutan, as in many other countries, has mainly been possible due to the donations that have arrived from different countries," UNICEF representative in Bhutan Will Parks, who is part of the country's vaccination program, told EFE.

Bhutan had vaccinated almost its entire adult population with the first dose in March mainly to a donation of 550,000 vaccines by India.

However, officials in New Delhi suspended exports in April to prioritise domestic needs, which left the Himalayan country without suppliers for the second round of the vaccine even as a deadline set by experts approached.

The campaign was salvaged in July after the United States donated 500,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine through the COVAX program, the World Health Organisation's initiative to supply coronavirus vaccines to developing countries.

The aid from the international community arrived two days after the Bhutanese government sought help to administer the second dose to its population of 800,000.

Parks said that even though the first dose of the vaccine administered to the Bhutanese had been AstraZeneca's Covishield, 95 per cent of the population chose to take Moderna as the second dose even though 350,000 doses of Covishield were available.

Meanwhile about 5800 doses of US vaccine Pfizer, received through the COVAX program, will be given to about 2000 children living in the southern districts, which are difficult to access due to the country's tough terrain.

The secluded South Asian country, which has for years resisted opening up its borders for foreigners in order to preserve local customs, was unable to prevent the coronavirus from affecting its population.

According to authorities, so far 2486 people in the country have been infected with the virus, while at least two deaths been linked to COVID-19.

According to the Oxford University's Our world in Data project, so far about 27.2 per cent of the world's population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus jab while 13.8 per cent of people have been fully vaccinated.

Of the 388,000 million doses administered across the world, 1.1 per cent of the people in low-income countries have received at least one dose.

Australian Associated Press