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Seychelles hopeful it can achieve herd immunity to coronavirus soon

A medical personel injects the first dose of the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm at the Seychelles Hospital in Victoria, on January 10, 2021.   -  
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Seychelles has said it hopes to reach 'herd immunity' against the coronavirus by mid-March, which would make it among the first in the world to achieve such extensive protection.

Herd immunity is when enough people have immunity, either from vaccination or past infection, to stop the uncontrolled spread of the virus.

It means the virus no longer easily jumps from person to person, helping to protect those who are still vulnerable to catching it.

President Wavel Ramkalawan said that by the middle of March, the island nation will have vaccinated 70,000 people or 70% of its population.

The country should then be able to reopen to tourists, he said, adding caution must still be taken.

"We must not think that the vaccine is the solution to everything," he said.

"We've got to continue to be aware, I mean the wearing of masks, the social distancing," he said, adding it was essential that rich countries helped poorer countries acquire vaccines.

"Vaccination is just the first part of the process, but then we need to go further. So the world must definitely come together in order to resolve this issue."

Nobody knows for sure what the herd immunity threshold is for the coronavirus, though many experts say it's 70% or higher.

But residents and healthcare workers appear confident the island nation can achieve herd immunity.

"I think Seychelles shall be able to achieve herd immunity because the Seychellois people want to be vaccinated, they are eager to be vaccinated, so by the end of April, March or April, we will be able to achieve our herd immunity," said nurse Amelie Richmond.

Local resident Khamis Juma said: "If all of us we will take the vaccine, then for sure things will be good. We shall be back in business."

Ramkalawan said it was essential that rich countries helped poorer countries acquire vaccines.

Seychelles has recorded over 2,600 COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.