Vaccination and Sanitary Measures

Editorial

still the best protection

Despite problems with vaccine supplies, logistics and questions relating to efficacy and safety of different types of vaccines, especially in light of the appearance of variants, the message coming out of all studies has remained constant: vaccination is still the best protection against degree of severity and rate of mortality of the disease. Despite being vaccinated, a certain proportion of people, around 10%, may still become infected with the Covid-19 virus, what is known as ‘breakthrough infection’. But here too the same reasoning prevails, that severity and mortality will be less, and this is enough justification for maintaining the recommendation.

What is also clear is that vaccination by itself is not sufficient to prevent transmission: it must be supplemented by strict adherence to the well known sanitary measures, in particular wearing of masks and keeping safe distance. The new clusters that have developed starting at Terre Rouge illustrate this point, and it is clearly in the interest of everybody concerned to follow the guidelines so as to protect themselves, family and friends, and by extension the citizens whom they are inevitably bound to interact with. This becomes all the more important as restrictions are lifted, and if we are to resume economic activity on an expanding scale.

There is no getting out of the fact that a proper vaccination programme is the ‘only sustainable means to protect the population against Covid-19 severe disease and death and return to some level of acceptable economic activity,’ according to expert opinion. Fortunately, the majority of people are willing to undergo vaccination, as is evident from the queues that start forming from early morning at designated vaccination centres. However, there are some hiccups that need to be addressed. For example, people from outside the region come to line up and local inhabitants face a shortage when their turn comes, and this causes frustration. We have repeatedly stressed in the paper that there must be a continuous and proper communication exercise so that the vaccine rollout is successfully conducted. These small details are concerning for inhabitants and need to be addressed.

There are ongoing studies about the efficacy of current vaccines against the latest, more transmissible Delta variant, present in the UK, and India where it is deemed to have been responsible for the massive second wave – which has now abated considerably.

According to a press release by the US National Institute of Health, reported by ‘India Today’ on 30 June 2021, the result of two studies (Study 1 and Study 2) carried out on people who had received Covaxin ‘suggest that the vaccine generates antibodies that effectively neutralise the Alpha and Delta variants of SARS-CoV-2.’ Additionally, ‘several other studies suggest Covaxin may be effective against multiple variants of the coronavirus.’

This is reassuring for us because a number of people have received Covaxin already. However, given the supply issue, we have no choice but to accept whatever vaccine is available, which currently is Sinopharm, and forthcoming are Sputnik and Johnson & Johnson. The record of Sinopharm in Seychelles, namely that the country has suffered a rapid second wave despite the fact that almost 70% of its population had been vaccinated with Sinopharm, may be a matter of justified concern. But then this must be set against the fact that tourists were allowed in shortly afterwards, and they also moved about freely.

All this put together again brings us back to the initial point that has been ceaselessly repeated right from the beginning, and which must bear reiterating: that whatever the vaccine used, sanitary measures must be continued if we are to be safe, safe enough to allow greater resumption of economic activity, which we all want.


* Published in print edition on 6 July 2021

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