Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands located at the eastern edge of the Somali sea and is home to Africa’s smallest nation with just 97,625 people. The tropical climate, white sand beaches and crystal-clear lagoons make it a popular vacation destination. However, like many tourist economies, Seychelles’ tourism sector struggled under COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on travel. But, thanks to an ambitious campaign, COVID-19 vaccinations in Seychelles is a success story, putting the island in the spotlight for holding one of the highest rates of vaccinations in the world. This is despite a May 2021 surge in infections that led to the reimposition of mandates (such as school closures and a ban on bars and nightclubs), causing global concern about the efficacy of vaccination programs.
Facts About COVID-19 Vaccinations in Seychelles
- On January 10, 2021, COVID-19 vaccinations in Seychelles hit the news when the nation became the first in Africa to roll out the vaccine after receiving a donation of 50,000 doses of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). As part of an effort to bolster vaccine confidence, President Wavel Ramkalawan stood as “the first African head of state” to receive this particular vaccine, followed by former president Danny Faure and other senior officials.
- On January 23, 2021, Seychelles received a second donation of COVID-19 vaccinations, this time from India: 50,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, also known as Covishield.
- Seychelles had vaccinated more than 60% of its population against COVID-19 by May 2021. Still, the country saw a sharp increase of new cases, from 120 new COVID-19 cases confirmed on April 30, 2021, to more than 300 cases per day recorded on May 7 and May 8, 2021. More than a third of these new cases were among people who received two doses of the vaccine. The remaining cases were people who only received a single dose or no dose at all.
- In September 2021, the U.S. Embassy to Mauritius and Seychelles announced the delivery of more than 35,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from the United States. The donation forms part of the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to sharing the U.S. vaccine supply with countries worldwide.
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between January 3, 2020, and October 21, 2021, Seychelles has recorded 22,071 cases of COVID-19 and 114 deaths. As of October 15, 2021, the nation has administered a total of 159,392 COVID-19 vaccines.
Paving the Path to Recovery
With a majority vaccinated population, Seychelles is open for business and welcomes foreign visitors. To protect Seychellois, the government requires a negative COVID-19 test for all arrivals to the islands, including fully vaccinated travelers. As Seychelles rebuilds its tourist industry, the government is making progress with strategies to diversify the economy and is calling on investors. In a July 2021 interview with China Global Television Network (CGTN), President Ramkalawan reported that Seychelles’ new economic plan emphasizes fisheries and agriculture, construction of hotels and the launching of fish processing facilities. Ramkalawan’s administration is actively seeking ways for Seychelles to “build itself anew” in order to create a balanced and robust economy. A successful and robust vaccination campaign has paved the way for Seychelles to rebuild and recover.
– Jenny Rice