By Daniel R. Lucey MD, MPH, FIDSA
On Tuesday, May 4, the Seychelles news agency reported:
“There are currently 1,068 active cases numbers, among which 84 percent are Seychellois and 16 percent are foreigners. Some 65 percent of the active cases are unvaccinated or have received only one dose, whilst the remaining have taken both doses . . . To date over 59,600 persons have received both doses of vaccines, representing 85 percent of the targeted population.”
At least two vaccines (both requiring two doses) have been used: Sinopharm (donated by the UAE) and Covishield (donated by India and also known as the AstraZeneca vaccine).
Data are not yet available from Seychelles on virus sequencing and variants in April, especially important in order to compare viruses in persons fully vaccinated (two doses) vs one dose vs. unvaccinated. Nor are data publicly available on the degree of clinical severity in these patients who have been fully or partially vaccinated. A comparison between Sinopharm, Covishield, and unvaccinated infected persons could then be done using genetic sequencing and clinical outcome data.
In February the variant B.1.351 was confirmed in a small number of patients in Seychelles.
Earlier this year South Africa decided not to use the AstraZeneca vaccine due to a very low efficacy in preventing infection with the B.1.351 variant initially found in South Africa.
Given the widespread international use of these two vaccines there are global implication to what is happening now in the Seychelles e.g., international travel, mass gatherings events whether religious, musical, or the Olympics (Japan July, 2021 and China February, 2022). The variant B.1.351 or a novel variant must be ruled out ASAP by large-scale genetic sequencing, perhaps in the renowned laboratories in South Africa that have been performing sequencing for other nations in Africa.
Daniel Lucey, M.D. MPH, FIDSA, FACP, is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, Infectious Disease adjunct Professor at Georgetown Medical Center, senior scholar at Georgetown Law, Anthropology Research Associate at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America Global Health Committee. He served as a volunteer to outbreaks overseas including hands-on Ebola patient care in Sierra Leone and Liberia (Doctors without Borders) 2014, MERS 2013, SARS 2003, as well as HIV, H5N1, Zika, yellow Fever, and pneumonic plague 2017 (with WHO/USAID/CDC). Since Jan. 6, 2020 he has contributed more than 100 posts to Science Speaks on COVID-19 and traveled to China in February 2020. He initially proposed, then fundraised and helped design the content for 2018-2022 Smithsonian Exhibition on Epidemics due to zoonotic viruses. From 1982-1988 he trained at University of California San Francisco and Harvard and was an attending physician at the NIH (NIAID) in the 1990s while in the US Public Health Service.
Your answers to a brief readership survey will help Science Speaks meet your needs and interests. The survey closes on Friday, May 21. Take the survey here.