Covid-19: This Pacific nation could become first to achieve herd immunity through vaccination

As countries around the world have started rolling out their vaccination program to provide immunity against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the Republic of Palau is poised to become one of the first countries to vaccinate the majority of its population. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the pacific nation, an archipelago home to about 18,000 people, is yet to report its first case of coronavirus,

Palau is a sovereign nation in free association with the United States and, under an agreement signed in 1982, the latter remains responsible for Palau’s defence until 2044. The archipelago has also access to Washington’s social services, making it a part of US’ mass Covid-19 vaccination program – Operation Warp Speed.

The Pacific Islands country on Saturday received its first shipment of 2,800 doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, which has been authorised by the US Food and Drug Association (FDA) for emergency use. The vaccination commenced on Sunday at the Belau National Hospital, starting with healthcare providers and first responders. Palau has requested another 30,000 Covid vaccine doses from the United States.

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Incident Commander of the Ministry of Health, Ritter Udui, reportedly said that small population puts Palau in prime position to become one of the first countries in the world to be inoculated against the virus. According to a CNN report, Palau’s goal is to vaccinate 80 per cent of its population and achieve herd immunity.

“It’s not compulsory to receive the vaccine, so our goal is to vaccinate about 80% of the population. We hope to achieve herd immunity (through the vaccination program),” the Palau official was quoted as saying by the US media network.

Notably, Palau had hailed India at the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly for its “invaluable support” to fight the ongoing pandemic. In September, Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr told a largely virtual gathering of world leaders that the Indian government helped the country improve its healthcare system through India-UN Development Partnership Fund.

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