Bhutan and Nepal on Monday expressed gratitude and appreciation for India at the UN General Assembly for its "heart warming goodwill" and "valuable support" in supply of COVID-19 vaccines under New Delhi's Vaccine Maitri initiative' that enabled the neighbouring countries to vaccinate their populations as the pandemic raged across the world.
Bhutan's Foreign Minister Lyonpo Tandi Dorji, in his address to the high-level 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Monday, said that as with many other parts of the world, Bhutan was not spared the impacts of COVID-19 nor its induced disruptions.
"Our campaign to vaccinate our population has been recognised as an unlikely success story, and today, more than 90 per cent of our entire population stand fully vaccinated. This, in no small measure, was possible due to the heart warming goodwill of friends and partners, including India, whose Vaccine Maitri initiative enabled the full first round of vaccinations for our adult population," Dorji said in his address from UNGA podium on the last day of the General Debate.
Bhutan also expressed gratitude to the United States, Denmark, Bulgaria, Croatia, and China, "whose generosity with vaccines came at the most critical time".
"We also thank all the other bilateral partners and multilateral agencies that supported logistics and provided financial support, medicines and equipment for our response to the pandemic. Our success would not have been possible without all of your support," the Bhutanese Foreign Minister said.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Nepal's Foreign Secretary Bharat Raj Paudyal also expressed appreciation in his address to the General Assembly for the vaccines provided to his country by India.
"In Nepal, we have been able to fully vaccinate 96 per cent of the target population, with almost everyone receiving at least one dose. We thank our immediate neighbours - India and China, our development partners, and the United Nations System for their valuable support," he said.Under the Vaccine Maitri initiative of the Indian government, more than 250 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been supplied to over 100 countries, including nearly 95 lakh doses to Nepal and 5.5 lakh doses to Bhutan.