Concerns over efficacy of COVID vaccines after cases spike in Seychelles, world’s most-vaccinated nation

Seychelles, which had raced to vaccinate its population of just under 100,000 with gifts of China's Sinopharm and India’s Covishield, saw cases more than double in the week to May 7

Representative Image
Representative Image

NH Web Desk

Concerns are being raised about the efficacy of COVID vaccines after Seychelles, which has vaccinated more of its population against COVID-19 than any other country in the world, saw active cases more than double in the week to May 7.

The nation last week re-imposed curbs including closing schools, cancelling sports events and banning mingling of households.

Cases are also surging in the Maldives, another Indian Ocean island nation that's a popular tourism destination.

The World Health Organization has said that vaccine failure in Seychelles couldn't be determined without a detailed assessment and that it was working on evaluating the situation, as per a Bloomberg report.

Kate O'Brien, director of the WHO's department of immunization, vaccines and biologicals, was quoted on Monday saying 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.

The Health Ministry of Seychelles, an archipelago off Africa's east coast, said on Monday that the number of active cases had more than doubled since last week to 2,486 people, and 37% of those have received two vaccine doses.

In Seychelles, Sinopharm shots were issued to 57% of those who were fully inoculated and the rest with Covishield, a vaccine made in India under a license from AstraZeneca Plc.

The country had raced to vaccinate its population of just under 100,000 -- first with a donation of doses from China's Sinopharm and then with a gift of Covishield, so it could reopen to the tourists who are the lifeblood of its economy.

As of May 8, no one who had contracted COVID while being vaccinated had died, Seychelles News Agency reported, citing the minister for foreign affairs and tourism.

Cases in the Maldives, which has seen a surge in visits from affluent Indians, have also shot up. The country has the most new cases per 100,000 people in the past five, seven and 14 days. Active cases jumped from 4,978 to 9,423 on May 9, the Bloomberg report said.

As of May 8, over 300,000 people in the Maldives had received at least one dose of a vaccine and 35% of the population had received two, according to the Health Protection Agency. The country has also been using Sinopharm and Covishield.

Positive test results in Greater Male, the area in and around the capital of the Maldives, are about 60% of the total. As of May 7 the government closed gyms and cinemas and imposed a curfew from 9 p.m. until 4 a.m, the agency said.

The government is also now requiring that arrivals to the islands, including those who have been vaccinated, have a negative Covid-19 test administered four days before their departure.

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