Seychelles, which has vaccinated the most of its population against Covid-19, saw active cases more than double in the week ending May 7, raising concerns that inoculation is not helping to turn the tide in some places.
The World Health Organization stated that vaccine failure could not be determined without a thorough examination and that it was assessing the situation.
Kate O’Brien, director of the WHO’s department of immunization, vaccines, and biologicals, told a news conference Monday that the WHO was in direct contact with Seychelles and that a thorough assessment was required, taking into account factors such as virus strains and severity of cases.
According to the Health Ministry of the archipelago off Africa’s east coast, the number of active cases has more than doubled since last week to 2,486 people, with 37 percent of those receiving two vaccine doses. Cases are also on the rise in the Maldives, a popular tourist destination in the Indian Ocean.
In Seychelles, 57 percent of those who were fully immunized received Sinopharm shots, while the remainder received Covishield, a vaccine manufactured in India under license from AstraZeneca Plc. According to the minister of foreign affairs and tourism, as of May 8, no one who had contracted Covid while being vaccinated had died.
The Seychelles, a group of palm-fringed tropical islands, re-imposed restrictions last week, including closing schools, canceling sporting events, and prohibiting household mingling.
The country had rushed to vaccinate its population of just under 100,000 people, first with a donation of doses from China’s Sinopharm and then with a gift of Covishield, so that it could reopen to the tourists who are its lifeblood.
In a blog post last week, Daniel Lucey, clinical professor of medicine at Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, stated that data on genetic sequencing for infections in Seychelles in April are not yet available.
Nonetheless, the B.1.351 variant, discovered in South Africa late last year, was discovered in the Seychelles in February, he said. In a study, AstraZeneca’s vaccine appeared to be less effective against that variant, and South Africa canceled plans to use those injections.
Lucey suggested that genetic sequencing and data on the severity of their infections could be used to compare Sinopharm, Covishield, and unvaccinated people who caught the coronavirus.
Cases have also increased in the Maldives, which has seen an increase in visits from wealthy Indians. In the last five, seven, and fourteen days, the country has had the most new cases per 100,000 people. On May 9, the number of active cases increased from 4,978 to 9,423.
According to the Health Protection Agency, as of May 8, over 300,000 people in the Maldives had received at least one dose of a vaccine, with 35% receiving two. Sinopharm and Covishield have been used in the country.
Positive test results account for roughly 60% of the total in Greater Male, the area in and around the Maldives’ capital. The government closed gyms and cinemas on May 7 and imposed a curfew from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., according to the agency.
The government is also requiring that all visitors to the islands, including those who have been immunized, have a negative Covid-19 test four days before departure.