Herd Immunity or Bust

As of Friday evening Phuentsholing has had a total of 498 cases since the recent outbreak with cases growing daily despite multiple lockdowns and restrictions since the first two cases were detected on 16th April 2021.

Samtse also has had 399 cases in a relatively short period of time despite several precautions.

Bhutan also recorded its second COVID-19 death in the form of an 82-year-old lady from Gomtu.

Bhutan is lucky that the cases have not spread beyond these two places but this luck will not hold for long as there will be a breach at some time.

Once the delta variant spreads to populated areas like Thimphu or other Dzongkhags it will spread like wildfire, overwhelm our health systems and start claiming lives of the unvaccinated.

As is visible from Phuentsholing and Samtse this variant does not let go easily once it has a hold due to its highly transmissible nature and immune escape properties.

Bhutan has also been lucky on one aspect of a large portion of its adult population getting the first dose which has ensured less severe cases and less deaths.

However, the delta variant which is soon poised to be the dominant variant in the world cannot be stopped with a single dose or by sealing our borders.

The only effective way to stop the delta variant and other variants of concern is to go for a second dose in large numbers and achieve a herd immunity of well above 80 percent.

This will also mean that we are not safe until our children get vaccinated.

The total numbers of vaccinations will not be the only figure that will matter as quality will also matter. This is where the mixed dose vaccine regime comes into play as study after study shows increased immunity and hence better protection.

Not long ago Bhutan wondered where its second dose would come from but now we are in a position to even choose our second dose.

We should not waste this opportunity for our both individual and collective safety and health, and we should all come forward to get vaccinated.

The other option is non-stop lockdowns, sickness and death.

Success is more a function of consistent common sense than it is of genius.
An Wang

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