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6 Covid-19 deaths in Seychelles, world’s most vaccinated nation, all had underlying health issues

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A medical staffer holds a box of the first dose of the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm at the Seychelles Hospital in Victoria, on January 10, 2021.
  • Six fully-vaccinated people have died in the Seychelles, Jude Gedeon, public health commissioner, said.
  • Five had received Covishield, an India-made version of AstraZeneca's shot, and one had Sinopharm.
  • All of those who died had underlying health conditions, Gedeon said.
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Six people have died from Covid-19 in the Seychelles despite being fully vaccinated, according to the country's public health commissioner.

Jude Gedeon said on Thursday that five of the people had received Covishield, a version of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine manufactured in India, and that one had received China's Sinopharm shot, as reported by Bloomberg.

All six people had underlying health conditions, he told the press. It's not clear how long after vaccination the people died. In Seychelles, the Covishield shot had mostly been given to people older than 60, Gedeon said.

Seychelles is the world-leader in vaccination rates, having fully vaccinated 68% of its 98,000 people. For comparison, Israel, a country lauded for its vaccination success, has fully vaccinated 59% of its population, according to Oxford University's Our World in Data. The world average is 11%.

Gedeon said that a recent spike in infections was driven by the highly infectious Delta variant, first found in India, that's fast-spreading across the world. Prior to that, the Beta variant, first found in South Africa, was dominant. Both strains have mutations that help the virus escape the antibody response, reducing the effectiveness of vaccines.

Other countries with high vaccination rates, such as Israel, have reported a rise in cases driven by the Delta variant - but fewer deaths.

The Seychelles Ministry of Health said on May 10 that about a third of active Covid-19 cases were among fully vaccinated people. At the time, most people in the country had received Sinopharm's shot.

Seychelles has reported more than 15,000 Covid-19 cases and 68 deaths, according to Health Ministry data, last updated on June 28. It has the highest proportion of new infections of any country in the world - it had an seven-day average of 1,393 new daily coronavirus cases on June 29, according to Our World in Data. On the same date, the US average was 37 new cases.

The country has imposed ongoing restrictions on gatherings and opening hours at bars to try to curb the virus.

Gedeon said that Seychelles was working with experts from the World Health Organization and Africa Centers for Disease Control to evaluate the country's vaccination rate, data, and response. "They will produce a report which will help us decide on the strategy to be used moving forward in terms of vaccination, measures etc," he said.

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