But that hasn’t been enough to stop the spread of Covid.
On face value, the fact the Seychelles, with such high vaccination coverage, is still facing an outbreak calls into question whether countries can inoculate themselves out of the pandemic.
Experts and local officials, however, say the Seychelles outbreak isn’t a sign the vaccines aren’t working.
Either way, the tropical nation is a reminder that even countries with high levels of vaccination can’t drop their guard.
The situation in Seychelles
Just over a month ago, the Seychelles was so confident with its Covid-19 handling that it dropped restrictions for most tourists.
It’s not clear what led to the spread, although Sylvestre Radegonde, the minister for foreign affairs and tourism, said the virus had likely been in the country all along and had spread as vaccination made people more complacent. Improved contact tracing and testing had also helped authorities catch more cases.
“Over the last few months, after vaccination, people have seen that anybody getting infected is not getting seriously sick, nobody is dying, nobody is getting a lot of complications,” he said. People in the islands — who he said love to party — have been socializing without taking precautions. “People have let down their guard.”
Around 37% of positive cases from the week to May 8 had been fully vaccinated, the government said, although it has not released data on which vaccines they received. The government hasn’t released data on the age breakdown of Covid-19 patients.
Radegonde said Thursday that only two people in the country are in intensive care.
“The conclusion is that the vaccines are protecting the people. Those who have been vaccinated are not developing any complications,” Radegonde said. “We remain confident that the vaccines — both of them — have helped the country. Things would have been worse.”
CNN has reached out to the Seychelles Ministry of Health and the Health Care Agency for comment.