A woman with an umbrella walks in a street in the capital Victoria of the Seychelles.
Valery Sharifulin | TASS | Getty Images
Seychelles worries world health experts after a surge in Covid-19 cases in fully vaccinated people.
The World Health Organization announced Tuesday that it would review coronavirus data from the Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, after the Ministry of Health said in the week leading up to May 8 that more than a third of people were positive tested for Covid-19 had been fully vaccinated.
It is believed that the Seychelles have so far carried out a very successful vaccination rollout. It can boast of having the highest percentage of people vaccinated against Covid-19 in the world, above Israel and the UK
The majority of people vaccinated have received China’s Sinopharm vaccine (approved by WHO for emergency use last Friday) as well as the AstraZeneca shot (known locally as Covishield, a version made in India). Overall, the Seychelles, with a population of over 97,000, recorded just under 8,200 cases and 28 deaths during the pandemic.
On Monday, the Seychelles Ministry of Health reported a sharp increase in the number of cases. Of the 120 new cases reported on April 30, a week later, over 300 cases were recorded a day on May 7 and May 8, respectively.
Of all positive cases, the Department of Health said 63% were either not vaccinated or were only given a dose of SinoPharm or Covishield, but 37% of new infections were in people who received both doses.
The ministry found that 80% of patients in need of hospital treatment had not been vaccinated and were more likely to be people with comorbidities. It added that “almost all” of the critical and severe cases requiring intensive care had also not been vaccinated. To date, none of the patients who died with Covid-19 had been fully vaccinated.
To date, 57% of those who received two doses have received Sinopharm and 43% have received Covishield, the Seychelles Ministry of Health said. It is unclear which vaccine was given to people who were fully immunized but then tested positive for Covid.
While new cases flattened on May 7 and 8 (with 317 new cases reported and 314 cases), the Ministry of Health said, “The transmission rate remains high and is worrying.”
The situation has certainly alarmed experts, especially since 60% of the total population of Seychelles has been fully vaccinated. In addition, 86% of the Seychelles target population for vaccination – 70,000 people – have been fully vaccinated to date, according to data from the ministry.
What the WHO thinks
On Monday, WHO director for Immunization, Vaccines and Biologics, Dr. Kate O’Brien, in a briefing, that the WHO is in direct communication with the Ministry of Health of the Seychelles and that the situation is “a more complicated situation than the top situation”. Line messages. “
“As mentioned earlier, the vaccines are very effective against severe cases and deaths. Most of the cases are mild cases. What is also important is that a significant proportion, over 80% of the population, has been vaccinated. But as we know … occur some of the reported cases occur either shortly after a single dose or shortly after a second dose, or between the first and second dose. “
She said that in this particular situation a very detailed assessment is required, “what the situation is like, first, what pressures are circulating in the country, second, if the cases occur in relation to the time someone has been dosed, third, how.” hard they are of the cases. “
‘Only through this type of assessment can we judge whether or not it is vaccination failure or whether it is more about the nature of the cases occurring, the milder end of the cases, and then the timing of the cases relative to the timing of the doses given to individuals. This assessment is ongoing and we are supporting and working with the country to understand the situation. “
CNBC has asked WHO for an updated comment on the situation in Seychelles but has yet to receive a response.
Effectiveness of the vaccine
The WHO has repeatedly warned that vaccination alone would not be enough to stop the pandemic, but would rather be another weapon in the arsenal to fight the virus.
Restrictions on social contact as well as good personal hygiene are still seen as a basis for preventing the spread. Last week the Seychelles put restrictions on some social gatherings and public spaces to curb the surge in infections.
The situation of the islanders is a reminder that no coronavirus vaccine currently in use has been proven to be 100% effective in preventing Covid-19 infection. Still, all vaccines currently approved for use by the WHO have been shown to be very, if not extremely, effective in preventing serious Covid infections, with cases, hospitalizations and deaths falling sharply in countries with advanced vaccination programs like the UK
With a third wave of cases and new virus variants that could lead to further deaths and economic devastation, time is of the essence to get life-saving vaccines approved and distributed worldwide. The more available, the better.
On Friday, the WHO approved the state-owned Chinese pharmaceutical company SinoPharm for emergency use. This could accelerate the use of the shot in the WHO COVAX program, which aims to give poorer countries access to vaccines.
WHO said the addition of the SinoPharm vaccine had “the potential to rapidly accelerate access to Covid-19 vaccines for countries that want to protect health workers and vulnerable populations.”
It noted that the WHO Strategic Advisory Group on Immunization Experts had completed a review of the vaccine and recommended it on a two-dose regimen, three to four weeks apart, for adults aged 18 and over based on all available evidence.
“The effectiveness of the vaccine in symptomatic and hospital illnesses was estimated to be 79%, all ages combined,” it said. However, it was found that “few older adults (over 60 years of age) have participated in clinical trials, so efficacy in this age group could not be estimated”.
In March, AstraZeneca released an updated clinical trial date showing the vaccine is 76% effective against symptomatic Covid-19 infections. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to be 95% effective.