“Around 250,000 AstraZeneca-vaccines are coming to Bhutan as a donation from the Danish Govt to help Bhutan combating #COVID19 and secure that the citizens get the second jab in time," said a post by the Denmark embassy in New Delhi late Thursday.
With the brutal second wave of covid-19 infections hitting India and amid protests over giving away vaccines to other countries without focusing on inoculating its own people, New Delhi had repurposed its vaccine production programme, orienting it towards domestic requirements alone. According to officials, India will not be looking at exporting or giving away vaccines till the third quarter of this year.
The developments in neighbouring India had put Bhutan in a bind.
The tiny country, with a total population of roughly 760,000, had previously made international headlines for speedily inoculating all its adult population with the first shot in April and was coming close to the 16-week deadline for the second shot this month.
Bhutan, however, did figure in a list of countries in Asia that the US was looking to donate AstraZeneca vaccines to when Washington announced it was giving away 55,000 doses last month. However, there was no timeline nor was there any mention of how many doses Bhutan would get. Last month, however, the European Union decided to activate its civil protection mechanism to procure the vaccines from countries that could spare them for Bhutan.
According to two people familiar with the matter, India too had quietly worked behind the scenes to ensure that Bhutan got the vaccines. India considers Bhutan a special neighbor having close political and security ties with the country that is sandwiched between India and China.