Relaxation will not happen for now even after the second dose until herd immunity is achieved: Health Minister

Relaxation will not happen anytime soon even after the second dose of vaccine, especially with the new COVID-19 variants emerging globally. The country will continue to follow strict COVID-19 protocols, said the Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo.

Unless the herd immunity is achieved, the quarantine, testing and the COVID-19 protocols will continue and these will change only when the country achieves herd immunity. When the country is fully protected, even if there is an outbreak, there will be no problem. So for now, relaxation in the country cannot happen because if something worse happens, then Bhutan stands no chance, so that is why Bhutan cannot afford to be complacent, added the Health Minister.

Dr Sonam Wangchuk of National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NI-TAG) said now the situation has changed. In the beginning of the year when the country had its first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, the NI-TAG team already had planned how to go about and try to minimize restrictions, but now new COVID-19 variants are emerging and it is a global concern. So after rolling out a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, the team will monitor for a certain period of time, and cautiously see whether to continue the seven-day quarantine or minimize or do away with the quarantine.

The second round of vaccination campaign will be done within a week so that the health services are not interrupted as doctors and the health team are deployed cluster wise in case there is any problem during the vaccination drive.

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