WHEN INDIA presented Bhutan with a generous gift of covid-19 vaccines in January, the neighbouring kingdom made an unusual choice. Rather than rushing to inoculate all 800,000 of its citizens, the government sought advice from the Zhung Dratshang, a body of Buddhist monks. The stars were not auspicious, they ruled. Better to wait two months, and then to make sure that the first dose be both administered by, and given to, women born in the Year of the Monkey.
So Bhutan waited until March 27th before Tshering Zangmo administered the first jab to Ninda Dema. The injection took place at a school in the capital, Thimphu, at the auspicious hour of 9.30am, after prayers were chanted and butter lamps lit. But then there was no dallying. Within a single week a world-beating 85% of Bhutan’s adult population had received a first shot. Only two countries, Israel and the Seychelles, have vaccinated a (slightly) higher proportion of people, but both took months to do so (see chart).
Publication Date: 8 April 2021
Publication Site: The Economist