Govt. optimistic about receiving second dose of Covid-19 vaccine on time

With less than two months left for administering the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, the government is optimistic that the vaccine will be received on time, said Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji during the virtual press meet yesterday.

“Though the pandemic has hit India at this time, we are hoping that the government of India will provide the second dose of vaccine to Bhutan,” the Lyonpo said, adding that the government is in touch with the Government of India (GoI).

The minister said the first dose of the Covid-19 jab gives only about half of the total protection that the vaccination is supposed to give and the second dose is, therefore, must to complete the required vaccine efficacy.

“We still have one and half months to receive the vaccine, but we are not sure how we will receive the dose. They may give us all the vaccine at once or in two different packages,” he said, adding that there has been no denial from the GoI.

“We are receiving around 1.8mn from COVAX facilities and around 5,000 Pfizer doses. We have around 50,000 COVID vaccines left from the first dose,” the foreign minister said.

“The government has also been trying from other countries,” the Lyonpo said. “We can’t assure that we will be receiving the second dose from others right now.”

Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said that the health ministry has done several meetings with the WHO and UNICEF, and they have submitted requirements, documents and shipment protocols to them.

“We will be receiving the Pfizer doses soon,” she said.   

However, Prime Minister said the situation would be much better after the second dose of the COVID vaccine, which will be rolled out after eight-12 weeks from the first dose.

“When you receive the second dose of the vaccination, two weeks after the second dose the situation will improve in the country. The vaccine will keep us safe as well as keep our community safe, it will help to stop spreading the virus to others,” Lyonchhen said.

The PM added that the second dose will be given between 8 to 12 weeks. The longer the duration between the two doses, the better the immune system, according to researchers.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji said that around 30 Bhutanese arrived in the country on Thursday from the Royal Bhutan Embassy in Delhi.

The Lyonpo said 26 of them are COVID-19 positive. Of which three of them are on oxygen support at the isolation ward in Thimphu. The conditions of the patients are stable, according to the Lyonpo.

Kinley Yonten from Thimphu