Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering on Monday expressed gratitude to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for making the nationwide rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme in the Himalayan country possible, as it received additional 400,000 doses of Covishield from India.
Indian Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj handed over the vaccine consignment to Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji at Paro airport, according to a press release issued by the Indian Embassy in Bhutan.
Mr Tshering, in a tweet, prayed that these gestures from India during the pandemic turn into boundless blessings for the people of India.
"Pleased to receive additional 400,000 doses of Covishield, making possible the nationwide rollout of our vaccination programme. People of Bhutan and I remain grateful@narendramodi," he said in a tweet.
Recalling Prime Minister Modi's virtual address to the UN General Assembly in September last year on India's vaccine production and delivery capacity to help humanity in fighting the COVID-19 crisis, Mr Kamboj reiterated that "India will be a force for good in the neighbourhood. It is committed to improving the well-being of the region."
Bhutan received the first consignment of 1.5 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccine Covishield as a gift from India in January.
Bhutan was the first country to receive the Government of India's gift of the COVID-19 vaccines, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII).
The 550,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine by India will enable Bhutan to launch its nationwide vaccination drive from March 27 onwards.
The entire eligible population of Bhutan will, thus, be inoculated with the first dose of the made-in-India COVID-19 vaccine. Thus, Bhutan is likely to be one of the first countries to protect its entire population against COVID-19, with assistance from India, the release said.
As a reflection of the special bonds of trust and understanding between India and Bhutan that have existed over decades, the Indian government had earlier handed over ten consignments of medical supplies, one portable X-Ray machine, essential medicines and medical equipment in addition to the vaccine consignments.
Going forward India will continue to resolutely stand by Bhutan in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, it said.
According to Johns Hopkins University data, Bhutan has reported 869 coronavirus cases and one death.
As part of the "Vaccine Maitri" initiative, India has supplied over 60 million doses of made-in-India COVID-19 vaccine to 72 nations.