By Tashi Namgyal
The second dose of Covid-19 vaccine which is due to be administered towards the end of next month sounds optimistic.
However, although the government is sure about receiving the vaccines from India, it is not affirmed when and in what number of consignments the doses will be delivered.
The Foreign Minister, Lyonpo Tandi Dorji, said that the two governments are in constant touch and are keenly eager to support each other despite the unfortunate event of the pandemic raging hurricanes and tsunami on the livelihoods of Indians at the moment.
“We also spoke with the embassy and the foreign officials there. Even amidst serious issues related to COVID, they agreed to help and we remain optimistic since the first dose won’t serve any purpose without the second one”, Lyonpo said during the Press Meet on Friday.
He added that while the government is sure to receive the vaccines, however, they are not sure whether it will be delivered in one go or in batches. He said that Bhutan will also receive 108,000 doses of the vaccine from the COVAX facility which was earlier kept on hold as the country did not sign a liability document for adverse consequences after administering the dose.
According to the Minister, all paperworks are completed and they have agreed to give 108,000 doses as well as 5,000 Pfizer vaccines. There are still 50,000 doses left after the first inoculation as well.
“We are sure to receive 150,000 doses in the country and we believe the Indian government will provide us the rest. However, we are also trying other means to procure them and requested other countries as well but we are yet to receive any confirmation from them as of now,” he said.
Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said that a tripartite meeting was already held with the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF a couple of days ago.
“Everything has been dished out and documents signed regarding shipment protocols. So Pfizer vaccines will arrive early to the country”, she said. Lyonpo added that Pfizer vaccines are also meant for children aged 12-17 years-old.
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 a must to complete the required efficacy of the vaccine.
The situation in the country, according to the Prime Minister (PM), Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering will be much better after the administration of the second dose.
He, however, reiterated on everyone having to play their part, not to be complacent, practice the health advisories and abide to the COVID protocols as much as possible.
He said that the situation in the country will only improve two weeks after the inoculation of the second dose. “The vaccine will keep us safe and also prevent us from spreading the virus onto others as well,” he added.
Meanwhile, health experts say that vaccines are vital in helping us return to a normal way of life. Not only do vaccines reduce the severity of illness and prevent hundreds of deaths every day, we now see they also have an additional impact on reducing the chance of passing Covid-19 on to others.
Studies worldwide have also revealed that a single dose of a coronavirus vaccine can reduce household transmission of the virus by up to half. But the expert opinion is that the current vaccines will provide a significant degree of protection, especially against severe illness.