Four active Covid-19 cases in Seychelles | 20 November 2020
There are four active cases in the country as of yesterday, all of whom are foreigners, said public health commissioner Jude Gedeon in the weekly health update yesterday at the Sheikh Khalifa Diagnostic Centre.
Two of these cases are on Mahé at the isolation centre ‒ although one of the active cases was expected to be discharged yesterday and go into quarantine ‒ while the other two are on island resorts.
“One of the patients, an expatriate staff, contracted the virus through exposure to a visitor who had the infection and who has recuperated,” said Dr Gedeon.
This brings the number of total cases of Covid-19 in the country to 163, meanwhile the number of Covid-19 PCR tests conducted for this month so far stands at 2,225.
“We continue to do active monitoring of visitors and Seychellois coming into the country, we continue to revise our strategies as and when necessary to make sure our monitoring and surveillance remains optimal, based on resources at our disposal,” added Dr Gedeon.
There are 106 individuals at the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay quarantine facility and another 15 at the coast guard facility.
“They are all faring well, we continue to monitor their temperatures and symptoms, and they are all asymptomatic,” said chief executive of the Health Care Agency, Danny Louange.
With the pledge of 100,000 vaccines being developed by ‘Moderna’ from an anonymous donor and two potential Covid-19 vaccines successfully in the last trial phases, the focus of yesterday’s press conference was to provide further clarifications on vaccines.
There are about 150 vaccine initiatives being undertaken in different parts of the world and those that are in fairly advanced development stages include Novarax-BioNTech, Moderna Therapeutics, Pfizer, Astra Zeneca at the University of Oxford, Sinovac-Coronovac and Sputnik V.
“Seychelles has been promised a donation of 100,000 doses of vaccine. The decision as to which vaccine we are going to choose when it becomes available has not been taken yet. We are monitoring the different initiatives that are on the market, we are assessing what the World Health Organisation will be recommending,” clarified the public health commissioner.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Health is working on a strategy for Covid-19 vaccination in the country.
Dr Louange said the Ministry of Health has a team currently developing the best vaccination strategies for when the population starts taking the vaccines.
“The team needs to align the country’s principles to the information that are coming out about the vaccines. Our objective is to ensure that segments of the population most at-risk are covered first and these include those with compromised immune systems, those on the frontline and so on,” explained Dr Louange.
How will the Covid-19 vaccines work?
According to Dr Gedeon, these vaccines might work in three different ways.
- Whole pathogens ‒ Some vaccines will use inactivated germs that cause the virus into the body, thereby tricking the body in thinking it is infected and triggering the body’s immune response to prepare to fight off a future infection.
- Pathogen portions ‒ Meanwhile some vaccines might only use a portion of the pathogen such as the protein to help the body build immunity. This is a proven technology already used in certain influenza vaccines.
- Genetic coding ‒ Other innovative technologies use only the genes that code for the pathogen portion. These genes are used with other elements to work with human cells to produce the antigen directly in the body.
Dr Gedeon’s explanation of how vaccines work begged the question of whether persons who have been infected and have built immunity, or antibodies against Covid-19 should also be vaccinated, given that they already have a line of defence.
“Research has shown that not everyone who gets Covid-19 builds up antibodies […]it has also shown a reduction of antibodies in those who have had the virus after a while. So to be on the safe side, even if you have contracted Covid-19, taking the vaccine will not have an adverse effect on you,” said Dr Gedeon.
In regards to how many doses of the vaccines need to be taken in order for it to be effective, Dr Gedeon noted that the vaccine trials are indicating that an individual needs to take at least two doses, spread over a few weeks, in order for the vaccine to build sufficient immunity.
“What we do not know however is how long these antibodies will stay, whether we will have to repeat the vaccine shots in six months, a year or two, we currently do not have these data. This will be figured out as and when research goes on,” said Dr Gedeon.
“A vaccine for Covid-19 will have the aim of creating herd immunity, and stave off the spread of the virus,” added Dr Gedeon.
Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. As a result, the whole community becomes protected — not just those who are immune.
“We saw the efficiency of herd immunity recently with the outbreak of measles in the country which did not spread because most people were vaccinated and those who were not received the vaccination in a campaign,” stated Dr Gedeon.
However the wearing of facemasks and other health measures are not expected to go away anytime soon even as people start getting vaccinated.
“We need to vaccinate at least 60% of the population or more before herd immunity can start playing a role. Moreover, it is only if we get an effective vaccine which provides a long enough immunity that we will be more comfortable going back to our ‘normal life’.”
Dr Gedeon also took the opportunity to put to rest unfounded theories that Covid-19 vaccines can alter a person’s DNA or that vaccines are a means to insert tracing devices in people.
Mid-November marks one year since the first cases of Covid-19 were detected, throughout which 56.5 million cases and 1.3 million deaths have been recorded. At present, there are 15.8 million active cases across the globe.
Dr Gedeon called on everyone to continue to be engaged in protecting themselves and others by maintaining health sanitary guidelines.