Covid-19 ‘Detailed assessment needed to explain Covid-19 situation in Seychelles’ – WHO |12 May 2021
A detailed assessment is needed to evaluate why the number of Covid-19 cases in Seychelles keeps increasing even if a fair number of its population has received the required two vaccine doses, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
Dr Kate O'Brien, director of the WHO's department of immunisation, vaccines and biologicals, told a briefing Monday (May 10) that the body was in direct communication with Seychelles and that a detailed assessment was needed looking at factors like strains of the virus and the severity of cases.
Seychelles, which has vaccinated more of its population against Covid-19 than any other country, saw active cases more than double in the week leading to May 7, raising concerns that vaccination is not helping to reverse the situation in some places.
In its latest update on Monday, the department of health said the number of active cases had more than doubled since last week to 2,486 people, while 37 percent of those infected have received two vaccine doses.
In total, 57 per cent of those who are fully inoculated have been administered Sinopharm, while the rest received Covishield, a vaccine made in India under a license from AstraZeneca Plc.
Dr O’Brien noted that most of the cases which have occurred locally are mild and that the Sinopharm vaccine really requires two doses, while some of the cases that are being reported are occurring either soon after a single dose, or soon after a second dose.
John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centre for Disease Control, dispelled fears about Sinopharm’s efficacy but voiced concerns about fully vaccinated people being infected in Seychelles.
“We are working with the government of Seychelles to understand the situation of these people who got infected after being vaccinated but we know generally that vaccinations blunt the severity of the virus,” said Mr Nkengasong.
The Seychelles’s rising caseload marks a dramatic reversal of the optimism that followed one of the world’s fastest vaccination campaigns, which started in January when the United Arab Emirates donated 50,000 Sinopharm shots.
The situation is being watched all over the world for what it says about the effectiveness of vaccines.
The news comes after the WHO recommended the Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use last Friday, clearing the shot for global use.
The decision, announced by the international health body after weeks of deliberation, is expected to help alleviate a severe shortage of doses in the developing world, as vaccine exports from Covid-19-struck India grind to a halt.
It will also boost Beijing’s bid to play a leading role in the fight against the pandemic, officials and analysts said.
The authorisation came with caveats, as the WHO said there was too little data to show whether the vaccine was effective in people over 60.
China’s five different vaccines haven’t been used widely in wealthy nations, but are already sustaining immunization campaigns across swaths of the global south.
But the doubling in Seychelles’s active cases have raised fresh questions about the effectiveness of the Sinopharm vaccine.
The WHO in April said Sinopharm was just over 78% effective in preventing symptomatic or severe disease in adults under 60, with little data on its success with older patients.