A heavenly archipelago with a shocking rise in COVID-19 cases
37% of infections in people with both doses of the vaccine
A spike of new cases
Reasons for the rebound
A variant that circumvents immunity?
Despite the new peak: mostly mild cases
When is
A rare case but too small a population to be significant
Signs of what a post-pandemic future will look like
Gibraltar as a testing ground
Brazil as a warning
Seychelles remains a safe place, authorities say
Those hospitalized had previous pathologies
Monitoring what happens in India
Immunize poor countries
The sun will rise again in paradise
The strange case of Seychelles: a new COVID-19 wave in the world's most vaccinated country
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A heavenly archipelago with a shocking rise in COVID-19 cases

More than 60% of the population of the Seychelles, a sunny corner of the Indian Ocean, is vaccinated. Despite this achievement, there's recently been a concerning rise of COVID-19 cases on the archipelago. Moreover, a significant percentage of infections occur in vaccinated people.

(Image: Christian Cacciamani / Unsplash)

The strange case of Seychelles: a new COVID-19 wave in the world's most vaccinated country
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37% of infections in people with both doses of the vaccine

This is the figure that worries scientists: 37% of those who infected by COVID-19 on the Seychelles in April and May 2021 had already received both doses of the vaccine.

(Image: Sam Moqadam / Unsplash)

The strange case of Seychelles: a new COVID-19 wave in the world's most vaccinated country
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A spike of new cases

There has been a peak of infections. On May 13 the number of new cases exceeded one thousand. Since then, the curve has been descending. However, despite the improvement in the figures, Seychelles is alert and has reinforced security and confinement measures.

The strange case of Seychelles: a new COVID-19 wave in the world's most vaccinated country
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Reasons for the rebound

What is happening in Seychelles? Some experts point to the type of vaccine given to most of the population: the Chinese Sinopharm. There are scientists who question whether this vaccine is effective at all. However, the World Health Organization has officially approved the Sinopharm vaccine and it's being used in many parts of the world.

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A variant that circumvents immunity?

Of course, there is also the possibility that the Indian or South African variant - or a new one that may have emerged in the Seychelles - is capable of circumventing the immunity offered by vaccination (whichever vaccine is given). Scientists are warning us that this is a real possibility.

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Despite the new peak: mostly mild cases

Be that as it may, the health authorities of the Seychelles say that the vaccination campaign has worked because the peak of infections did not lead to an explosion of serious cases. Getting vaccinated may not protect 100% from a new infection, they suggest, but it does cause the infection to be mild and not endanger our existence.

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When is "herd immunity" achieved?

There is another factor to consider. Seychelles is close to the percentage that is scientifically considered "herd immunity" or group immunity, which requires 70% of the population to be immunized.

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A rare case but too small a population to be significant

The case of Seychelles is rare and is being monitored by the World Health Organization, but its observers also emphasize that we are looking at a small country of about 100,000 inhabitants who are distributed over more than 100 islands. It's too much of an outlier to really draw scientific conclusions.

(Image: Alessandro Russo / Unsplash)

The strange case of Seychelles: a new COVID-19 wave in the world's most vaccinated country
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Signs of what a post-pandemic future will look like

Either way, Seychelles may give clues to a future in which the pandemic can be controlled but COVID-19 will not disappear from our lives. The virus will adapt and try to survive, but hopefully it will do so without causing death.

The strange case of Seychelles: a new COVID-19 wave in the world's most vaccinated country
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Gibraltar as a testing ground

We will have to see what happens in places like Gibraltar, a British enclave in the Iberian Peninsula with 33,700 inhabitants. It has vaccinated 100% of its adult population, and its's a territory in which thousands of people from Spain and other countries enter and leave every day. What happens in a place like Gibraltar may indicate to science how the new variants of COVID-19 infiltrate (or not) when there are group immunity.

The strange case of Seychelles: a new COVID-19 wave in the world's most vaccinated country
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Brazil as a warning

Of course, there is also the case of Brazil where, according to some studies group immunity has been achieved through massive contagion. They focus specifically on regions like Manaus, in the Amazon. However, successive and lethal waves of COVID-19 in Brazil and beyond are casting doubt on that suggestion.

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Seychelles remains a safe place, authorities say

On the Seychelles, authorities want to regain calm as soon as possible. They are taking many security measures and send the message to the world that the archipelago continues to be a safe place. Living off tourism, Seychelles cannot allow the pandemic to escalate.

(Image: Nenad Radojčić / Unsplash)

The strange case of Seychelles: a new COVID-19 wave in the world's most vaccinated country
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Those hospitalized had previous pathologies

Among the information given by the Seychelles health authorities, there's the suggestion that the majority of people who required hospitalization already had previous pathologies. The underlying message is that the archipelago is not facing a wave of COVID-19 like the first ones.

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Monitoring what happens in India

On the other hand, there's the evolution of COVID-19 in countries like India that continues to concern scientists all over the world - including the Seychelles. It may have been the much more contagious Indian variant that caused the recent spike in the archipelago.

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Immunize poor countries

It seems clear that, in a world of permanent mobility (for business, tourism or migration), the only way to stop the coming waves of COVID-19 is to vaccinate the entire population of the planet, including poor countries.

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The sun will rise again in paradise

At the moment, the case of Seychelles is strange and disturbing. Yet, the scientific community is convinced that if mass immunization advances even further, the worst of the pandemic will be definitely behind us and the sun will rise again in paradise.

(Image: Alessandro Russo / Unsplash)

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