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Sinopharm Covid-19 caccine: The reactions | 13 January 2021

Seychelles kick-started its national immunisation campaign in efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in the country, with head of State Wavel Ramkalawan leading by example to become the first leader in Africa to take the BBIBP-CorV, or Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine as it is most commonly known.

After the official launch on Sunday, the Ministry of Health has rolled out the administering of the vaccine to key groups in the country since Monday, starting with health care workers who will be followed by other frontliners.

During the launch, other than President Ramkalawan, other leaders in the country including the First Lady Linda Ramkalawan, Vice-President Ahmed Afif and his wife Stella Afif, former President Danny Faure, Chief Justice Ronny Govinden, cabinet ministers, members of the National Assembly, health care leaders and other community leaders also took the vaccine in show of their support of the campaign.

Midway to the first phase of the campaign, Seychelles NATION caught up with some of the leaders, mostly members of the National Assembly, who took the vaccine on day one to get their reactions.


Kelly Samynadin – elected MNA for Au Cap:  “I decided to take the vaccine – after having done much research about it – because as a leader I need to lead by example. For our nation to maintain herd immunity from the virus, a majority of our population need to take it. Therefore, it starts with us political leaders and decision makers to walk the talk, so as for the rest of the population to follow.

I have not experienced any major side effects, except for feeling fatigue, mild headaches and a slight pain on the injected area. But besides that, I feel perfectly fine.

“I would encourage everyone to take the vaccine. If we want to go back to living a normal life, then we, as responsible citizens, need to do what is necessary to achieve that. If we want our economy to reflourish, our kids to go back to school, to travel again etc., then this is our only solution.”


Sandy Arrisol – elected MNA for Bel Ombre and Chief Whip: “First of all I would like to congratulate the President and the government to initiate the vaccination programme.

“Secondly I have been elected to represent and defend my beloved constituency of Bel Ombre, so I have decided to go first take the vaccine to see if there are any side effects.

“My decision will definitely help my constituents to make a wise decision and have a positive way of thinking.

“Thirdly we consume a lot of goodies from China, including food items, snacks, medicine, drinks, oyster sauce, milk and we never complain or ask questions. So I have taken my dose and am appealing on every Seychellois to do the same, keeping in mind that it’s a personal decision.

“Up till now there are no side effects, and I am feeling normal and looking forward to my second dose in one month’s time.”


Philip Monthy – elected MNA for Cascade: “I took mine because as a leader in the community I see it as my responsibility to lead by example, giving my constituents and Seychellois in general the confidence that the vaccine is safe. It is also an important step in the fight against the Covid-19. We need to get back to normal as soon as possible. I have no side effects whatsoever until now, and of course I would encourage everyone to take it because we need to tackle this pandemic with everything we have at every level and vaccination remains the most important step in this fight.”


Stella Afif – wife of Vice-President Ahmed Afif: “I decided to take the vaccine because I have followed all developments in regards to all the vaccines and I was confident that there is no danger in taking it.

“It is the duty of every citizen to help fight this pandemic to save our young generation. Our grandparents did it for us when they needed to and today we are grateful for that.

“It has been two days since I took the vaccine and I have no pain, no fever, no swelling, or any other side effects.

“I would encourage others to take it as it is safe and also to help save the world from this pandemic.

“It is a case of history repeating itself and we cannot give up. God is great, and the world will overcome this pandemic.”


Michel Roucou – elected MNA for Mont Fleuri: “In this time we all need to play our role and take our responsibility to stop the spread of this deadly virus and I, as a leader, see it as my responsibility to take the lead by stepping forward and take the vaccine.

“Frankly, I see the exercise as the school vaccination I undertook during my early days and nothing more, except that this time, my action will help to save lives. We should all be grateful that the government undertook such initiative free of charge for all the citizens.

“After taking the vaccine, I went home, had my lunch and even went for an afternoon jogging without feeling any side effects whatsoever and until now, I feel fine and healthy.

“I will definitely encourage everyone to come forward and take the vaccine as it is, for now, the only option we have in stopping the virus from propagating further into the community.”


Sathyanarayanan Naidu – elected MNA for St Louis: “The Covid-19 pandemic has effectively brought our economy to its knees. We must do everything in our power to rise up. As a representative of the people, I felt it was my obligation to lead by example and take it first so that I can instill public trust towards the immunisation programme.

“As far as side-effects go, I have got a headache and feel fatigue but that was communicated to us as something to be expected before we took the vaccine. Nothing else and I am doing much better mentally knowing that I've taken a step forward towards protecting myself and those around me from this virus.

“I am encouraging everyone to take it and to act as a strong stakeholder in the fight to rebuild our country and its economy.”


Roland Duval





How the Sinopharm vaccine works


In early 2020, the Beijing Institute of Biological Products created an inactivated coronavirus vaccine called BBIBP-CorV. It was later put into clinical trials by the state-owned Chinese company Sinopharm. China approved the vaccine on Thursday, and the vaccine is also in use in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.


A vaccine made from coronaviruses

BBIBP-CorV works by teaching the immune system to make antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The antibodies attach to viral proteins, such as the so-called spike proteins that stud its surface.

To create BBIBP-CorV, the Beijing Institute researchers obtained three variants of the coronavirus from patients in Chinese hospitals. They picked one of the variants because it was able to multiply quickly in monkey kidney cells grown in bioreactor tanks.


Killing the virus

Once the researchers produced large stocks of the coronaviruses, they doused them with a chemical called beta-propiolactone. The compound disabled the coronaviruses by bonding to their genes. The inactivated coronaviruses could no longer replicate. But their proteins, including spike, remained intact.

The researchers then drew off the inactivated viruses and mixed them with a tiny amount of an aluminum-based compound called an adjuvant. Adjuvants stimulate the immune system to boost its response to a vaccine.

Inactivated viruses have been used for over a century. Jonas Salk used them to create his polio vaccine in the 1950s, and they’re the bases for vaccines against other diseases including rabies and hepatitis A.


Prompting an immune response

Because the coronaviruses in BBIBP-CorV are dead, they can be injected into the arm without causing Covid-19. Once inside the body, some of the inactivated viruses are swallowed up by a type of immune cell called an antigen-presenting cell.

The antigen-presenting cell tears the coronavirus apart and displays some of its fragments on its surface. A so-called helper T cell may detect the fragment. If the fragment fits into one of its surface proteins, the T cell becomes activated and can help recruit other immune cells to respond to the vaccine.


Making antibodies

Another type of immune cell, called a B cell, may also encounter the inactivated coronavirus. B cells have surface proteins in a huge variety of shapes, and a few might have the right shape to latch onto the coronavirus. When a B cell locks on, it can pull part or all of the virus inside and present coronavirus fragments on its surface.

A helper T cell activated against the coronavirus can latch onto the same fragment. When that happens, the B cell gets activated, too. It proliferates and pours out antibodies that have the same shape as their surface proteins.


Stopping the virus

Once vaccinated with BBIBP-CorV, the immune system can respond to an infection of live coronaviruses. B cells produce antibodies that stick to the invaders. Antibodies that target the spike protein can prevent the virus from entering cells.

Other kinds of antibodies may block the virus by other means.


Remembering the Virus

Sinopharm’s clinical trials have demonstrated that BBIBP-CorV can protect people against Covid-19.

But no one can yet say how long that protection lasts. It is possible that the level of antibodies drops over the course of months. But the immune system also contains special cells called memory B cells that might retain information about the coronavirus for years or even decades.


Can you still transmit Covid-19 after vaccine?

The vaccine will protect you from getting ill and then ending up hospitalized. But it's possible that you could still carry the virus and be contagious to others. So those who get the vaccine should still be wearing masks and practicing physical distancing.



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