Health Minister sends letter of thanks to the U.S for Covid-19 vaccine donation

Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo

Lhakpa Tshering

In a letter dated 30 July – three days after the successful second round nationwide immunization drive against Covid-19 – health minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo sent a letter of thanks to the U.S for its generous donation of vaccines to Bhutan.

Addressed to the U.S Chargé d’affairesAtulKeshap in New Delhi, the health minister expressed gratitude to the U.S government for making the nationwide rollout of the second Covid-19 vaccination program in the country possible, as it received 500,000 doses of Moderna vaccine through the COVAX facility.

“We are humbled by the generosity of your government and the American people. We look forward to engaging with the U.S government to end this pandemic,” the letter of thanks reads.

She described the United States’ international engagement and multilateral cooperation in combating Covid-19 and advancing global health security under President Joe Biden’s leadership as inspiring and wrote, “Ensuring broad and equitable access to vaccines is no doubt an integral part of this goal.”

The half a million doses of the Moderna vaccine by the United States enabled Bhutan to launch a successful nationwide second dose vaccination drive for the eligible adult population from 20 July onwards which had attracted international attention.

Expressing greater appreciation, Lyonpo wrote, “During the second nationwide Covid-19 vaccination campaign that lasted for a week, around 95.3 percent of the eligible populations have been vaccinated with the second dose.”

Besides, she also expressed her excitement for the Moderna vaccine receiving authorization to use in children aged 12 to 17 from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the first time the vaccine has been authorized for people under 18 years old.

“Today, as we welcomed the approval by EMA for Moderna vaccine use in children aged 12 to 17 and following emergency authorization by the Drug Regulatory Authority (DRA) in the country, we have started inoculating children aged 12 to 17 in nine high-risk districts including the capital with the remaining doses,” she said.

In the meantime, Lyonpo also informed that the population-based research collaboration between the Moderna and the Ministry of Health is moving ahead as planned. 

This research aimed at understanding the safety, efficacy, and reactogenicity of the Moderna vaccine inoculated in the eligible population as heterologous Covid-19 prime-boost vaccination.

“We hope the data generated through this collaboration will provide ‘real-world’ evidence to guide future vaccine development and innovation,” Lyonpo wrote, adding that the research collaboration with her alma mater – Yale University, is also advancing well in the area of public health.