In a few days, we would enter 14 weeks since the first dose of Covid-19 vaccination was administered. Bhutanese are following any development on the next dose intently. The first round had vaccinated more than 88 percent of the eligible population in the country. Without the second dose, we are not safe.
When will we get the second dose is up for guessing. After missing the list of countries to receive the first 25M doses, Bhutan has been identified as one of the beneficiaries of these vaccines from the US through the COVAX Facility. About 16 million doses have been allocated for Asia. Bhutan will share among many other countries in the region. The health ministry had received a letter from the facility confirming the allocation of 108,000 doses of AstraZeneca for Bhutan which is likely to arrive in August.
Experts are exploring mixing vaccines to cut short the wait for the second dose. There is no need to rush. When other countries began their vaccination drive, despite many calling for immediate inoculation, we cautiously waited. The lesson was worth the wait.
There is nothing more important for the government at this point in time than securing the vaccines. We know earnest efforts are being made. The government is seeking support from 18 countries bilaterally including rich countries with excess vaccines like the US.
What the public and agencies can do, for now,is adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols. However, quite often than not, we hear issues impeding public efforts in following the protocols. For instance, the current water shortage issue that is running for the fourth straight day in the capital is compelling many from forgoing the protocols such as washing hands and using face masks regularly, among other things.
The thromde’s two water tankers are busy delivering water to the quarantine centres and institutions. De-suups are helping about 20 thromde officials trying to fix the broken supply lines. Other agencies have water tankers lying idle in the garages, while residents are desperately running around seeking as basic a thing as drinking water. Why is it so difficult to come forth to help?
In absence of a continuous water supply, schools in Thimphu are struggling to maintain sanitation and hygiene. The vaccine may be our best hope,but not the only option.
Until the vaccine is here or even thereafter, our best bet is the safety protocol, experts say. Unfortunately, health officials said that pandemic fatigue and complacency are hampering the fight against the virus. Add to that a water shortage for days, it can’t get worse than this. The government is risking big time like making tobacco tax free and easily available. This is another measure to prevent the virus from overwhelming us. While we wait for the second dose, we can help ourselves by following the simple protocols like wearing masks and not crowding.