The U.S., Israel, and a few other countries have done a decent job in rapidly vaccinating their residents against covid-19 — but none hold a candle to the small Asian nation of Bhutan. In about the span of two weeks, the country was reportedly able to vaccinate almost of its entire adult population.
According to the AP, 93% of the country’s adult residents have now gotten at least one vaccine dose, amounting to 62% of the country’s population overall. That alone trumps progress in places like the U.S., where 46.5% of the adult population is partially vaccinated, and even Israel, where 58% have gotten at least one shot. But it’s even more remarkable when you consider Bhutan has accomplished this feat in only 16 days, since the first doses were distributed to the public on March 27. By contrast, the U.S. first began vaccinating people over three months ago, in mid-December.
The country, located right between Tibet and India, did have its advantages in vaccinating residents, namely its small size. The largely Buddhist nation, led by a constitutional monarchy, only has around 800,000 residents, making it the 165th most populous country in the world. But the rollout was as successful as it was due to the highly motivated volunteers who managed it as well as past experience with mass vaccination campaigns that involve cold chain storage, the AP reports.
The country did experience a relative jump in cases in December and January, but it’s also largely contained the pandemic this entire time, with only 910 cases and one death reported to date. Mirroring other successful countries like New Zealand, Bhutan enforces a strict 21-day quarantine on travellers entering the country.
Though the country’s campaign will soon wrap up, Pandup Tshering, secretary to the Ministry of Health, told the AP that people unable to get vaccinated initially are still being offered the shot, while the country has enough doses to vaccinate its entire population.
Other small countries such as the Republic of the Maldives and Seychelles have also accomplished similar success in vaccinating their residents. Unfortunately, much of the world can’t say the same yet.