News Brief

Covid-19 Cases Rising in Seychelles, Where Majority Of People Received China’s Sinopharm Vaccine

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) also said this week that it would review Covid-19 data from Seychelles, which has a population of just under 100,000.
  • Bhaswati Guha Majumder Saturday, May 15, 2021 1:24 pm IST
    A woman with mask in Seychelles (Twitter)
    A woman with mask in Seychelles (Twitter)

    The East African nation, Seychelles, the most vaccinated nation in the world, is now witnessing a rise of Covid-19 cases among fully inoculated individuals.

    In terms of population share, the archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean had vaccinated more citizens than any other country in the world, even Israel.

    Over 60 per cent of the nation’s population is fully vaccinated, while more than 70 per cent have received at least one jab.

    Reports said that Seychelles will send samples taken from individuals who contracted the virus for analysis in Kenya to understand why the SARS-CoV-2 infections increased despite it having vaccinated the majority of the population.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) also said this week that it would review Covid-19 data from Seychelles, which has a population of just under 100,000.

    According to the county’s health ministry, more than a third of people who tested positive for Covid-19 in the week to May 8 had completed their vaccination.

    These cases have raised concerns over the efficacy of vaccines received by the people in the island nation.

    The majority of vaccinated people have received China’s Sinopharm vaccine, almost 57 per cent of the population, while the rest got Covishield, the Indian version of Oxford-AstraZeneca shot.

    However, as of now, the health ministry didn’t break down which vaccine those who were infected had taken--Sinopharm or Covishield.

    But the ministry clarified that the rate of transmission remains high and it is a concern.

    What WHO Says

    Earlier WHO experts cautioned that vaccines alone would not be enough to stop the coronavirus pandemic and people have to follow safety measures.

    But recently a contradictory announcement came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States.

    The CDC director, Dr Rochelle Walensky said on 13 May that people who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks or physical distance.

    "Based on the continuing downward trajectory of cases, the scientific data on the performance of our vaccines and our understanding of how the virus spreads…that moment has come for those who are fully vaccinated," he said during a media briefing.

    WHO cautions however that people should not jump to conclusions.

    WHO’s Director of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, Dr Kate O’Brien said: “As was noted, the vaccines are highly efficacious against severe cases and deaths.”

    She said that while most of the Covid-19 cases which have occurred are mild, the important part is to note that a substantial fraction, over 80 per cent of the population, has been vaccinated.

    “But as we know ... some of the cases that are being reported are occurring either soon after a single dose, or soon after a second dose, or between the first and second doses,” added O’Brien.

    According to the WHO expert, the situation needs a very detailed assessment of the virus variants in the country, on whether cases occur relative to when somebody received vaccine doses and the severity of these Covid-19 cases.

    “Only by doing that kind of evaluation can we make an assessment of whether or not these are vaccine failures or whether it is more about the kinds of cases that are occurring, the milder end of cases and then the timing of the cases relative to when individuals received doses,” she explained.

    However, as per a recent report by the Chinese media Global Times, the ongoing phase III clinical trials of the Sinopharm vaccine, which have been conducted in five Arab countries since the summer of 2020, showed the efficacy of 78.89 per cent on people aged 18 and above.

    But The Washington Post reported in March that a small number of people in the United Arab Emirates were asked to receive a third shot of the Sinopharm vaccine after antibody tests indicated that they did not have a sufficient immune response even after getting two doses of the made-in-China vaccine.

    In the case of Covishield—the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and manufactured by Serum Institute of India—didn’t work well against a highly infectious South African coronavirus variant, according to The New York Times.

    This variant has now been found in Seychelles but it is unclear how widespread it has become.

    Jude Gedeon, Seychelles’ public health commissioner said that despite the surge in Covid-19 cases, inoculations have cut the number of infections and the severity of the coronavirus caused disease.

    He added: “With the numbers, we are registering, we see that the vaccinations worked out.”

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