In the past few months, millions of people around the world scrambled to get vaccinated against Covid-19. If we talk about one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, Seychelles, which has fully vaccinated 63.5% of its population, more than one-third of the fully vaccinated population was found to be Covid-19 positive till 25 May, which is a serious concern for the world health community.
Possible reasons for Covid surge in Seychelles.
Uplifting restrictions for economic activity
On 10 May, the Health Commissioner of Seychelles, Dr. Jude Gedeon mentioned multiple possible reasons for the rise in cases such as increased economic activity, reopening of restaurants, and resumption of schools. Gedeon also mentioned that Easter celebrations may have exposed people who only received one dose of the vaccine to infection.
Opening borders for tourism
Tourism is considered to be a reason for the surge in Covid cases as the country received more than 14,000 foreign visitors in April 2021 which were allowed with a negative covid report. Gedeon said that “There is also no evidence that tourists are bringing new infections into Seychelles,”
Efficacy of vaccines
Another reason for the surge in Covid cases could be the vaccines administered. Almost 60% of vaccinated people received Sinopharm, a vaccine made by a Chinese company, and the remaining were vaccinated with AstraZeneca, a vaccine by a British Swedish pharmaceutical company.
According to the World Health Organization, in general, the efficacy of Sinopharm was found to be around 78% for people under the age of 60 and there was little data available for the vaccine’s effectiveness in older people.
Also, in the trial done for the AstraZeneca vaccine by the USA, the efficiency was found to be 79% in Seychelles for symptomatic Covid-19 patients which is less in comparison to other vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna.
Efficacy of all vaccines
Vaccines are not 100% sufficient in preventing the virus but vaccinated people are less likely to be hospitalized or less likely to die. A statistical analysis was done by Kevin Dunbar, Professor of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology at the University of Maryland College, and Gavin Dabrera, Consultant in Public Health Medicine England in London, found that people are getting infected with Covid-19 even after receiving one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Almost after three weeks of receiving at least one dose people tested Covid positive. In comparison to non-vaccinated people, the transmission in families from vaccinated infected people was found to be 40-50% less.
If we look at the data on the efficacy rate of different vaccines, Russia’s Sputnik V is 97.6% effective, followed by Pfizer-BioNTech, made by an American pharmaceutical company and a German biotechnology company, with an efficacy of 95%, Moderna, an American pharmaceutical company’s vaccine, and AstraZeneca, made by a British-Swedish pharmaceutical and biotechnology company, found to be 85-90% effective and Covaxin, made by Bharat Biotech which is a Hyderabad based biotechnology company, found to be 81% effective. Sinopharm vaccine, made by a Chinese state-owned company, was found to be 78% efficient, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, made by the American pharmaceutical company, has an efficacy rate of 72%. This shows that all the vaccinated people still have a chance of getting the virus and cases like that are called a ‘breakthrough’.
|Sputnik V (Russia)||97.6%|
|Pfizer-BioNTech (USA & Germany)||95%|
|Covishield (Serum institute/AstraZeneca- India)||90%|
|Oxford University AstraZeneca (UK)||85-90%|
|Johnson & Johnson (USA)||72%|
Breakthrough cases around the globe
Tony Blakely, Professor of Epidemiology at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, says that if a vaccine has an efficacy rate of 90%, there is still a possibility of getting two Covid positive cases out of every 20 people vaccinated. In an interview with news.com.au, Blakely said “If a vaccine is 90 percent effective and the majority of your population is vaccinated, at some point you’re going to start seeing more cases of the vaccinated.” Blakely said, “As you get more and more people vaccinated you will see more cases. No vaccine is perfect. But you’ve got much less chance of catching Covid and dying.”
During a hotel quarantine in Sydney on May 1, Australia, six fully vaccinated overseas travelers were found to be Covid positive. Also, experts say, people who have never tested positive for Covid-19 and had a single dose of vaccine are more vulnerable to Covid.
Breakthrough cases in India
In April 2021, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said that very few cases were reported of breakthrough infections, and out of 10,000 COVID vaccinated cases only two to four cases were found to be Covid positive. As of April 2021, Dr. V.K. Paul, Indian pediatrician, a member of Niti Ayog, said that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is keeping a close look at breakthrough infection cases in India.,
“Breakthrough infections are rare but in a dynamic situation we should watch it carefully,” said Paul. “But we should remember that vaccine recipients are protected to only a certain level and therefore in an overwhelming situation, the risk remains and therefore all are requested to continue taking precaution.”