Interview with public health commissioner Dr Jude Gedeon on the Covid-19 situation in Seychelles |13 May 2021
‘All the approved vaccines are effective at preventing severe illness and death from Covid-19’
Reports that the number of positive Covid-19 cases in Seychelles has risen made some bad press locally and internationally.
But why such a sudden increase?
Despite unconfirmed reports that the number has started decreasing, Seychelles NATION spoke to public health commissioner, Dr Jude Gedeon, yesterday to better understand the situation on the ground.
Seychelles NATION: We have seen a sudden increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in Seychelles over the past weeks even though the country has vaccinated more of its population than any other country. Some people are saying that it has to do with the Sinopharm vaccine while the WHO recommended the vaccine for emergency use globally. What do you think is the cause of the rise in the number of cases?
Dr Gedeon: All the approved vaccines are effective at preventing severe illness and death from Covid-19. We know from national experience and report that they are less effective at preventing transmission.
Vaccines remain a very important role in the control of the epidemic. Of all persons who are fully vaccinated 57% have taken Sinopharm and 43% Covishield. There is evidence that both vaccines prevent severe illness.
Seychelles NATION: What do you think is the cause of this rise in the number of cases?
Dr Gedeon: As economic activities increase there is increased frequency of interactions among people, therefore increasing the risk of transmission of Covid-19.
There is inadequate adherence to public health measures partly due to complacency because of vaccination. There is a possibility that the virus is potentially more transmissible. There is also no evidence that tourists are bringing new infections in Seychelles. About two thirds of the people who test positive for Covid-19 are among those who are not fully vaccinated.
Seychelles NATION: Is the Ministry of Health working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to better understand the situation?
Dr Gedeon: Yes the Ministry of Health is working very closely with WHO Country Office and we have been assured the continued support of WHO.
Seychelles NATION: Some Gulf countries have been giving their people a third dose of the Sinopharm jab, are we heading towards that?
Dr Gedeon: We are following closely developments in other countries and we will follow guidance from WHO with regard to whether a booster vaccine dose will be required.
Seychelles NATION: Have all health workers been vaccinated. If not, what is the percentage that has not been vaccinated?
Dr Gedeon: The majority of health care workers have taken the vaccines. The figures are being compiled.
Seychelles NATION: What is the Ministry of Health doing to get all health workers to take the vaccine?
Dr Gedeon: We have to address the individual concern of the staff through one on one counselling and providing correct information about Covid-19 and the vaccines.
Seychelles NATION: The official number of deaths due to Covid-19 in Seychelles is 28. Had the deceased taken their doses of any of the two vaccines available in Seychelles?
Dr Gedeon: From our records NONE of the people who passed away were vaccinated.
Seychelles NATION: What is the situation of Covid-19 in schools and do we have other clusters?
Dr Gedeon: There were a number of cases identified in schools. The infections likely occurred outside the schools.
Seychelles NATION: Is there a new outbreak the North East Point Hospital?
Dr Gedeon: There is an outbreak among staff at North East Point hospital. We have redeployed staff to ensure continuity of care.
Seychelles NATION: Not giving information is causing more panic and speculation not only in Seychelles but worldwide. Don’t you think giving daily information is the best thing?
Dr Gedeon: We are doing as best as we can to keep the population informed. It is not the frequency of reporting that is important but accuracy and consistency of statistics.
Seychelles NATION: Please reconfirm that even having the two doses of vaccine, one can still get Covid and infect others.
Dr Gedeon: It is possible for a person who is fully vaccinated to get infected and transmit to others. This is well documented worldwide.
Seychelles NATION: We journalists have not been receiving information on time from the Ministry of Health. Our emails and phone calls are not being responded to. As Public Health Commissioner how can you facilitate this process?
Dr Gedeon: Our aim is to ensure clear communication in a clear and timely manner.
Seychelles NATION: There are reports that some people have been testing positive at the Ministry of Health labs, but tests at private labs have returned negative. What do you have to say about this?
Dr Gedeon: There are also reports that people who have tested positive in the public health lab also tested positive in private labs. We have recently conducted inter-lab verification and analysis is underway.
Seychelles NATION: Are all labs in Seychelles ISO certified?
Dr Gedeon: The Seychelles Public Health laboratory and the Seychelles Bureau of Standards lab are all ISO certified. Recently the drug quality control lab in the Ministry of Health has been accredited for chemical analysis (pharmaceutical).
Seychelles NATION: What about the private labs?
Dr Gedeon: They are not ISO certified.
Seychelles NATION: There are reports that the rapid response team has disbanded. If yes, why?
Dr Gedeon: The rapid response team has been reorganised for greater efficiency.