How Bhutan has kept COVID-19 at bay

Bhutan, a tiny and poor nation in South Asia, has had only one COVID-19 death since the pandemic began. Experts say the country has succeeded in keeping the disease at bay through attentive leadership; the provision of enough economic and social support so that citizens are able to follow public-health guidance; and a sense of shared responsibility that permeates Bhutanese culture.

In a February 10, 2021, article in The Atlantic, Asaf Bitton, executive director of Ariadne Labs, offered thoughts on why Bhutan has handled the pandemic much better than the U.S., a nation with far more resources. He noted that while the U.S. has “the world’s best medical-rescue system,” the nation has neglected a public-health focus on prevention—which Bhutan and some other socially cohesive low- and middle-income countries have adopted to avoid being overwhelmed by epidemics.

“People say the COVID disaster in America has been about a denial of science. But what we couldn’t agree on is the social compact we would need to make painful choices together in unity, for the collective good,” Bitton said.

The article was written by Madeline Drexler, visiting scientist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and former editor of Harvard Public Health magazine.

Read the Atlantic article: The Unlikeliest Pandemic Success Story