CONTRARY TO BELIEF: PAHO rep maintains pandemic is not over for anyone, not even vaccinated

CONTRARY TO BELIEF: PAHO rep maintains pandemic is not over for anyone, not even vaccinated
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Country Representative for The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Dr Eldonna Boisson delivers remarks as The Bahamas receives its first tranche of COVID-19 vaccines from the Covax facility on March 30, 2021.

“The pandemic is not over for anybody until the pandemic is over for everybody”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The pandemic has not ended for fully vaccinated individuals, according to Pan America Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Dr Eldonna Boisson.

When asked whether fully vaccinated individuals should no longer be concerned with the pandemic, Boisson said: “For persons who are vaccinated, what that means is they are no longer at risk of getting severe disease or dying of COVID-19. Their risk is tremendously reduced of that happening. That’s what vaccination means.

“Vaccination does not mean that the person cannot come into contact with COVID and cannot transmit it. That still can happen.

“The likelihood is reduced somewhat, but not significantly enough to stop transmission.

“And [as] such, basically, the pandemic is not over for anybody until the pandemic is over for everybody.

“It’s a pandemic.

“We’ve seen when it began way out in China, [and] in very quick time it moved around and the whole world was affected.

“So, until the world has it under control, nobody has it under control.”

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

Boisson’s comments were not made in response to the prime minister, who, while addressing the media on Monday, said the “pandemic is finished for the vaccinated”, while “non-vaccinated are still in the pandemic” and assured the government was aggressively pursuing additional vaccines to vaccinate more of the populous.

The prime minister did not expound.

It was unclear whether he was associating the end of the pandemic with the eased restrictions permitting vaccinated individuals to return to some activities and customs previously enjoyed.

As of Saturday, just shy of 100,000 people had received at least one jab, though only 39,366 had been fully vaccinated.

Boisson was also asked what percentage of the population needed to be vaccinated for the country to reach herd immunity.

She said it is estimated that The Bahamas needs 70 to 80 percent of the population to get the jab, but it is not an exact science at this time.

She noted that until The Bahamas reaches that rate of vaccination and reviews the epidemiology, PAHO cannot be sure.

“For example, to get herd immunity for measles you need 95 percent of your population to be vaccinated. So, at this time, we don’t have that evidence yet, but we would anticipate it will be at least 70 to 80 percent of the population.”