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World Bhutan vaccinates 60% of population against COVID in record time

12:46  08 april  2021
12:46  08 april  2021 Source:   aljazeera.com

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Bhutan on Wednesday said it had given about 60 percent of its entire population a first jab against COVID-19 since the Himalayan kingdom started an ambitious vaccination drive nine days ago.

Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck et al. wearing costumes: A health worker inoculates a Buddhist monk sitting in front of a portrait of Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, at Lungtenzampa Middle Secondary school in Thimphu [File: Upasana Dahal/AFP] © A health worker inoculates a Buddhist monk sitting in front of a portrait of Bhutan's King Jigme Khe... A health worker inoculates a Buddhist monk sitting in front of a portrait of Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, at Lungtenzampa Middle Secondary school in Thimphu [File: Upasana Dahal/AFP]

The tiny nation wedged between India and China told AFP news agency that 470,000 people out of 770,000 in total had been administered the first shot of a two-dose regime of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine donated by India.

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Its rapid rollout puts Bhutan far ahead of other leading nations in reaching the 60 percent mark, including Seychelles, Israel and the United Arab Emirates, according to an AFP analysis.

When Bhutan’s campaign launched on March 27, it set the speedy target of vaccinating 533,000 adults – having excluded pregnant women, new mothers, people with certain health conditions and seriously ill patients – in just one week.

However, the nation, famous for measuring gross national happiness, extended its deadline by several weeks.

A health ministry spokeswoman told AFP that healthcare officers were now focusing on vaccinating those above 70, as well as disabled residents.

The country has recorded 896 COVID-19 infections and one death so far.

Israel has set the world’s leading pace per capita for vaccinations in a two-dose regime, having already given both shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to more than half of its population.

Australia needs to rethink its Covid-19 vaccine rollout, doctor says .
Epidemiologist professor Nancy Baxter says the Federal Government won't reach its target to have the entire population vaccinated by the end of the year if they continue on the current trajectory. 'We need to do it faster than we were hoping before, if we're hoping to get everyone vaccinated by the end of the year,' she told Weekend Today. Her doubts come after several setbacks to the vaccine program, which include a delayed rollout and advice, from the country's chief immunisation authority, against the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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