Bhutan vaccinates 60% of population in record time

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

The tiny nation wedged between India and China told AFP 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.

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 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.

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