Theodore Slate - May 9, 2021

The situation is paradoxical as much as it is worrying. The Seychelles archipelago, located in East Africa, is the "champion" of vaccination against Covid-19, since to date, more than 60% of the population has received the two doses of serum. A godsend for the country, whose income is closely linked to the tourism industry, and which wanted to return to the "old life" as soon as possible.

However, the effects of this rapid vaccination are far from those expected, and the local government has been forced in the last few days to put in place several strong coercive measures in order to contain the current Covid explosion. According to the latest reports, 500 new cases were reported last week, bringing the total to a thousand active cases in a country of only 100,000 people.

"Despite all our exceptional efforts, the Covid-19 situation in our country is critical at the moment, with many cases reported last week," explained local Health Minister Peggy Vidot. Since then, schools have been closed again, gatherings between members of different households have been banned and the closure of several businesses including bars and restaurants has been anticipated.

Less Effective Vaccines

To understand the sudden deterioration of the health situation in the Seychelles, one must look at the conditions of the vaccination. According to local figures reported by the BBC, one-third of the newly infected had been fully vaccinated, with two doses, and the rest of the patients had received the first dose or had not been immunized.

Unlike many countries that have chosen to use vaccines whose effectiveness has been scientifically proven, Seychelles has chosen to turn to products provided by the Chinese firm Sinopharm and an Indian version of AstraZeneca serum.

However, according to various studies, the effectiveness of the Chinese serum is only 79% to 86%. Earlier this year, a Chinese official had himself recognized the limitations of the vaccine. As for the AstraZeneca vaccine, various studies show its ineffectiveness against the South African variant, present in the archipelago.

The situation is reminiscent of the one experienced by Chile a few weeks ago when the South American country had chosen the same Chinese vaccine to protect its population quickly. However, the country was forced to reconfigure after a local study showed that the Chinese serum was 67% effective in preventing symptomatic cases of Covid-19 and 80% effective in preventing fatal cases.

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  1. This article mentions only cases, it does not say how many people are seriously ill or have been hospitalised? It's difficult to make any kind of judgement of the health situation without these facts. If, as would be expected in cased where vaccinated people have become infected, or where younger people have become infected (the majority of the unvaccinated are young), most infections are mild, then the situation is exactly as one would expect. And those new infections will actually increase population immunity and make everyone safer. If, however, infections are leading to serious illness, hospitalisation and death, then we have a more serious problem and questions need to be asked about the link betweem increased vaccinations and increased illness.

    marie-Louise kellett (South Africa)

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