Bhutan reaching herd immunity for now as COVID-19 positivity rate drops

The number of positive cases has gone down because not many COVID-19 tests are done like in the past. Also, Ministry of Health (MoH) has withdrawn the regular flu clinics. But the COVID-19 tests are still done in the regular health centers.

The Prime Minister Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering said the positivity rate has drastically gone down because the country has rolled out the fourth dose for everyone. So those who have the fourth dose may not get the disease, and many people who have had the infection and recovered may not get re-infected. He said the positivity rate (people out of 100 people testing positive) is in the low single digits.

The reason for decline in the positive rate shows there is herd immunity in the community. Also, the hospitalization is less than 0.05 percent. There are only one or two patients admitted in the COVID-19 hospital where the capacity is maybe 100, said PM.

“Now we have geared towards viral surveillance and gene sequencing, the viruses that we are getting in the community. So far, it is BA.1 or BA.2. Hopefully, the country may not detect any new variants or anymore lockdowns but possibilities can still be there,” said PM.

Recounting the fight against COVID-19, PM said, during the initial phase, there was very limited information on the Novel coronavirus, and so the country worked on not bringing in the virus because of how dangerous it could be. Therefore, when a single case was detected in 2020, the whole nation was under lockdown and suspended all travels in the country with no inter-district movement either.

“We couldn’t think of doing anything else but not having the disease in the country,” PM said.

After rolling out the COVID-19 vaccines, as a part of milestones of any infectious disease, the virus started mutating, and the virus becomes less toxic after mutations, but theoretically there will be surprises as a more dangerous virus can evolve any time though practically it is very unlikely, the PM added. “We are worried.”

People have built better immune system through the fourth round of COVID-19 vaccines made available for everyone, and Bhutan is only one of few countries in the world to roll out vaccines with choices.

In the phase II, it was learnt that it is not important to stop the spread of the virus, and equally impossible to remove the virus in the country.  More or less, one gets away with mild symptoms and it is more important to prevent premature deaths.

The PM explained that patients do not die from the virus, but they die because of the many other underlying factors.

“We did not worry so much about getting the infection, and all focus was to take care of the symptomatic patients, and there will be more symptomatic patients and so we immediately raised the number of COVID-19 wards to almost about 800 beds in the country,” said PM.

The Prime Minister said many people who have the infection do not even realize they have it, as many people showed just flu symptoms. There are also the people who come for tests even though they are asymptomatic. Now Bhutan has reached towards the end of Phase II.

People are no longer coming for COVID-19 test because they have the confidence that it their immune system can fight it, especially when fully vaccinated. And even if they test positive, there is nothing much to do. However, if the symptoms get worse then they should reach out to their nearest health centers.

MoH has been requesting the people to get fully vaccinated, and records show that 90 percent of the mortality cases did not have the protection of the vaccine as the deceased were either unvaccinated or did not receive the full dosage.

Check Also

BNB observes Global Money Week with Talakha Monastery

In commemoration of Global Money Week (GMW) from 18- 23 March, Bhutan National Bank (BNB) …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *