Seychelles Leader Says Most Vaccinated Nation Safe Despite Surge
(Bloomberg) -- Seychelles President Wavel Ramkalawan insisted his country is safe for tourists even as Covid-19 cases surge in the nation that’s vaccinated a greater proportion of its people than any other country.
Ramkalawan, in a transcript of an interview with the state-owned Seychelles News Agency, said that while some fully vaccinated people have contracted the disease, none of them has died.
“Up to this date, Seychelles has not recorded any case of mortality of people fully vaccinated,” he said. “This has shown us the efficacy of the vaccination.”
Seychelles, a palm-fringed archipelago of 115 islands, had raced to inoculate 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.
While tourist arrivals in April, the first full month after reopening, were 62% below the same month in 2019, only 22 visitors arrived in April last year when coronavirus restrictions were in place. The economy contracted 13% in 2020 and in January the government announced that it faced a revenue shortfall triggered by the pandemic.
While 62.2% of Seychelles’s population have received two doses of either Sinopharm or Covishield, a vaccine made in India under license from AstraZeneca Plc, the number of active cases more than doubled since last week to 2,486 people, the health ministry said on May 10. Of those, 37% had received two vaccine doses. Sinopharm was given to Seychellois under 60 years of age, while Covishield was given to people over 60, the president said.
“We have seen, for instance, a situation at the old people’s home where patients who had received only one dose of Covishield were infected,” he said. “There were no lives lost and the patients have recuperated; this is the efficiency of the vaccine.”
Of those hospitalized, 80% weren’t vaccinated, he said.
“Sinopharm and Covishield AstraZeneca have served our population very well,” he said.
The World Health Organization said vaccine failure couldn’t be determined without a detailed assessment, adding that it was working on evaluating the situation.
The country last week re-imposed curbs including closing schools, canceling sports events and banning mingling of households.
“We have created the space for tourists to come and enjoy their vacations without the risk of being infected. So Seychelles remains safe,” he said. “So my message to the world, do not let the figures worry you.”
In the Maldives, another Indian Ocean island holiday destination, Covid-19 cases are also surging and curbs have been enacted. In that country, about 35% of the population has had two doses.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.