Learning from the vaccination drive

By Monday, we will have vaccinated almost all the people, who are fit to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus or Covid-19.  The figures are impressive already.  As of yesterday, we have vaccinated nearly 460,000 people, roughly 62 percent of the entire population of 735,553 people.

If we take the number of people, who registered for the vaccine, 548,403 people, the achievement is more laudable.  It is 83 percent coverage.  With the vaccination programme extended over the weekend, the coverage could improve.

In short, we could be one of the few countries in the world, if not the only one, to inoculate — with at least the first dose — the entire eligible population against the virus that has ravaged lives and livelihoods around the world for more than a year.

It is our smallness that has led to this feat.  To put it into context, the metro area population of Siliguri, the nearest big town to Bhutan, is more than a million people.  Critics might say that it is the advantage of our smallness that we could manage such an achievement.  It might hold true, but there is more to it than just the numbers.

Bhutan’s effort to fight the pandemic had been exemplary right from the beginning.  We managed to contain two local outbreaks from flaring into a full-blown community transmission.  Guided by the wisdom of His Majesty The King and the effort put in by the health and frontline workers, and the cooperation of the populace, our fight against the pandemic stands out and is among the best in the world.

The long awaited, ultimate solution in the form of a vaccine has arrived.  How fast we can inoculate the population and achieve a herd immunity is crucial in protecting the people.

It may be too early to celebrate, given that inoculating the population is incomplete without the second dose, but the vaccination programme is an important lesson for all of us.

If it is the smallness that led to the success, it is an advantage that can be replicated in all our endeavours.  To remind ourselves, His Majesty The King had repeatedly told us that, as a small country, we could be far more “efficient, expeditious, and decisive than a large country can ever be.”

We used our smallness to our advantage this time.  We should learn from this and explore how we could use the same to solve our problems and overcome challenges.  We are still grappling with the basic problems.  We talk about leveraging technology, yet we cannot make use of that to improve service delivery.  We make the best of plans and are unable to execute them.

Unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, is a big issue in a small country.  The economy is growing albeit job creation, connectivity, even after decades of building infrastructure, is still a problem and urbanisation, with the best of plans on paper, is getting out of control.  The examples are plenty.

As we realise the advantage of our smallness from the vaccination programme, it is a lesson too valuable to not replicate in our other endeavours.

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