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Amid vaccine shortage, Bhutan for mixing doses

Over 90% of population got first shot

June 24, 2021 09:22 pm | Updated 09:23 pm IST - KATHMANDU/MUMBAI

Bhutan’s Prime Minister on Thursday said he “has no problem” in mixing-and-matching COVID-19 vaccine doses to immunise a population of about 7,00,000 people in the tiny Himalayan nation.

Bhutan, nestled between India and China, has one of the world’s lowest COVID-19 fatality counts, with just one person dying from the infectious disease since the pandemic began.

Prime Minister Lotay Tshering — who is also a practicing urologist — said over 90% of the country’s eligible population had received a first dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine and that the deadline to administer the second dose after a gap of 12 weeks was scheduled to end this month.

“Knowing immunology, knowing how our body reacts to vaccines, I am comfortable to secure a second dose of any vaccine that is, of course, approved by the WHO.”

Earlier this year, India provided 5,50,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Bhutan. But New Delhi has no surplus to give to any nation as India exits the worst of a deadly wave of the coronavirus that doubled its death toll in two months.

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