English | Dzongkha Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Bhutan receives 150,000 doses of Covishield vaccine from India

Jan 20, 2021

Bhutan received 150,000 doses of Covishield vaccine from India today, making Bhutan the first country to receive the gift. The consignment was delivered in the country just four days after India’s own massive roll-out of the vaccine. The Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, Ruchira Kamboj handed over the consignment to the government.

An Indian Air Force aircraft AN32 landed towards late afternoon today with the consignment. 13 boxes which contain 1,200 vials each were sanitized and administered Thruesel by the Leytshog Lopen of the Central Monastic Body.

It was then handed over to the Health ministry. The consignment of 150,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, Covishield for Bhutan will be stored in Thimphu for nearly two months. The vaccine is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

“We are very confident that we have more than adequate storage capacity. Two to three months ago, we have done an assessment of cold chain across the country, from the primary health centres till the National Referral Hospital. The vaccine will be stored in the MSPD store in Thimphu. And when we get the second batch, then we will start distributing to health facilities,” said the Health Minister, Dechen Wangmo.

Lyonpo added that the preparedness for this day began since July last year.

“This is like any other vaccines that we are implementing. So, we will be using the same cold chain mechanism. We already have refrigerated vans, icebox and everything is prepared. Once we do the prescreening of the eligible population and line listing of every eligible population, then based on the number, we will roll out the vaccines to the respective health centres,” Lyonpo added.

The vaccine will only be rolled out after the country has the required number of doses which comes to around 1.2 M doses for the eligible population of about 533,000 to ensure the same level of immune protection for all.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said the vaccine drive is expected to start only in mid-March after the month-long Dana (inauspicious month) from February 14- March 13.

Namgay Wangchuk, Paro

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