TIMPU, Bhutan (AP) – As the chart shows, the engine curve of Bhutan’s COVID-19 vaccine stretches from day one, crossing Israel, the United States, Bahrain, and other countries known for rapid vaccination.
It took those countries months to get to where they are, sweeping through their vaccination campaigns amid growing cases of coronavirus. But the story of Bhutan’s vaccination campaign is almost over, just 16 days after its launch.
The small Himalayan kingdom, which has created a wedge between India and China, has vaccinated almost 93% of its adult population since March 27. Overall, the country has vaccinated 62% of its 800,000 population.
The rapid spread of the vaccine is keeping small populations at bay in the Seychelles, where nearly 100,000 people have been affected by 66% of the population.
Its small population helped Bhutan move fast, but its success was attributed to its dedicated citizen volunteers, known as “dismantling”, and the creation of a cold chain depot used in earlier vaccine carriers.
In January, Bhutan received its first 150,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from neighboring India, but footage was released in late March to coincide with auspicious dates for Buddhist astrology.
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 overcome this disease,” the recipient, 30-year-old Ninda Deman, was quoted as saying by Quensel.
Health Ministry Secretary Dr. Pandup Hering said that clasps are still being provided to those who could not be vaccinated during the campaign, that the country has enough doses to cover the entire population.
Bhutan has so far reported 910 coronavirus infections and one COVID-19 death. It has a 21-day mandatory quarantine for all people arriving in the country. All schools and facilities are open and monitored for compliance with the COVID-19 protocols, said Hering.
Bhutan is the last Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas. But the country has gone from an absolute monarchy to a democratic, constitutional monarchy.
Associated Press writer Wasbir Hussein contributed to this report.