A gift of 500,000 doses of Moderna vaccine from the US

Bhutan is all set for the second dose of the COVID vaccine. The second nationwide campaign will start next Tuesday. 500,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine reach the country yesterday.

It is a gift from the US government through the COVAX facility. The government now has enough vaccines for the second dose for people above 18 years and the first dose for children between 11 and 17 years.

“We know exactly the population projection so everything is calculated and ready. Especially for the Moderna vaccine that we are rolling out for the first time all the advocacy material are prepared and the dissemination will start from tomorrow. Moderna vaccine is a bit different, If we take it out from negative 20 we can keep it only for one month. So this is where we are taking into consideration and planning the logistics,” said Health Minister Dechen Wangmo.

“UNICEF plays the key role of moving vaccines from COVAX to all around the world. And for this particular consignment, we had to organise a charter flight all the way from Kentucky to Paro. And I am so delighted for the people of Bhutan that this vaccine has arrived. More is coming, as the prime minister announced more vaccines from Denmark arriving tomorrow. And we are organising another consignment of AstraZeneca vaccine,” added Dr Will Parks, the UNICEF Bhutan Representative.

Another consignment of some 120,000 out of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Denmark will arrive in the country today.

According to the Health Minister, the ministry will be seeking advice from the NITAG to mix-and-match vaccines for the second dose.

“Now globally many countries have rolled out homologous which means the same first dose and second dose. And heterologous which is the first dose is Astrazeneca and the second is an mRNA vaccine. So there are many examples, for Bhutan also we are exploring a combination of heterologous and homologous approaches to inoculation that as we speak is being discussed by the national immunisation technical advisory group,” said Lyonpo.

Meanwhile, the registration process for vaccination is in full swing. More than 560,000 people have registered as of July 11.

 Namgay Wangchuk, Paro

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