Phub Dem | Paro

As the country prepares to roll out the second mass vaccination on July 20, the much-anticipated vaccines begin to arrive.

After receiving 500,000 doses of Moderna vaccine from the USA, another consignment from Denmark, 121,900 doses of Astrazeneca, arrived in the country yesterday.

According to the press release from the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday, the country will receive over 100,000 doses of Astrazeneca from Croatia, Bulgaria, and other countries.

Other contributions include 5,850 doses of Pfizer from the COVAX facility and 50,000 doses of Sinopharm from the People’s Republic of China.

The government has also ordered 200,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which is expected to arrive at the end of this year.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the government was grateful for the support from the international community, especially when vaccines are in short supply. “We are fortunate that Bhutan evokes tremendous goodwill and affection the world over. We are blessed with genuine friends for their unwavering help and support for our country.”

With enough vaccines to administer the second dose for eligible population, the press release states that the provisions to vaccinate those below 18 are considered with the availability of data and evidence.

While the roll-out plan will be similar to the first one, it states that the government awaits evidence on the Moderna vaccine to cover children below 17.

Lyonchhen said: “As we look forward to the next step in overcoming this pandemic, the government would like to offer our heartfelt gratitude for His Majesty’s leadership that has guided and inspired us throughout.”

UNICEF Bhutan representative, Dr Will Parks, said the vaccines would provide the much-needed and awaited protection against Covid-19.

He said that the vaccines were a critical step towards controlling the pandemic that has upended the lives of children and young people across the world. “UNICEF is humbled to support the government’s response and recovery efforts under the exemplary leadership of His Majesty The King, and remains committed to reimagining a better, safer and healthier future for children and their families.”

Besides fast-tracking the shipment of the vaccines and providing operational support, UNICEF is also strengthening the cold chain system to store the vaccines.

According to Dr Rui Paulo de Jesus, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) representative to Bhutan, the country’s response to Covid-19 and the nationwide vaccination campaign for the first dose was exemplary.

He said: “WHO would like to acknowledge the proactive role taken by the government to secure the vaccines and donors for providing the much-needed vaccines for the second dose.”

WHO will be funding Nu 24 million for the second dose roll-out campaign.

Ambassador of Denmark to Bhutan, Freddy Svane, said that Denmark was behind the people of Bhutan amidst the battle against Covid-19. “The Danish donation of vaccines represents an important step in the global vaccination drive.”