Is Bhutan Smarter Than America?

By Shlomo Maital

    Bhutan is a small (fewer than 1 million inhabitants), relatively poor ($3,000 per capita GDP)  mountainous Buddhist nation nestled in the Himalayas.  It is famous for its use of GDH  Gross Domestic Happiness, in place of Gross Domestic Product.

     Bhutan has now vaccinated 90% of its population.  In doing so, it becomes the nation with the highest percentage of its population vaccinated.  This, despite the immense difficulty in reaching tiny outlying communities.

    Howe did they do it?  According to press reports:  More than 2,400 health workers fanned out from July 20 to July 26 to administer second doses, said a release Tuesday from the U.N. Children’s Fund.    “The Royal Government of Bhutan made exhaustive efforts to reach all target groups,” according to UNICEF. “Health workers organized vaccinations at community centers but also conducted home-visits to vaccinate the elderly and people with disabilities and trekked to higher altitudes to reach the nomadic herders.” 

     In contrast, only half of the US population has been vaccinated – and that % is basically stable, stuck.  Cases are rising, as the Delta variant sweeps through mainly southern states – Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi.    

     The US is a very wealthy country.  Its GDP per capita is 20 times that of Bhutan.  You do not have to climb mountains, to reach nomadic herders.   Yet – despite President Biden’s efforts, vaccinating the remaining anti-vaxers is stagnant.

      OK – it is easier to vaccinate a small country, with fewer people than, say, Greataer Peoria, ILL.   But why is it that the people of Bhutan, with far less education, relatively, than the people of the US, have rapidly and gladly embraced vaccination?  And hence saved lives?

      The US CDC, in a leaked document, has stated that the Delta variant is as transmissible as chickenpox (the MOST virulent virus), and that it is basically a game-changer.  Yet there is no sign that those who refuse to be vaccinated are changing their minds.  Moreover, again wearing a mask has become political – even though it is proven that those who ARE vaccinated, can also spread the virus to others, not just the unvaccinated.

       Bhutan 1,  America zero.  It’s a shame.