By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
LESS than five percent of people fully vaccinated in The Bahamas have been infected with COVID-19 and fewer than one percent of recovered patients have been re-infected with the disease, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Delon Brennen has said.
Dr Brennen insisted yesterday vaccinations are the only way out of the pandemic, adding that while many may be hesitant to take the jab for various reasons, the benefits of taking the Oxford- AstraZeneca vaccine still far outweigh the risks.
Dr Brennen disclosed the information as a guest on radio talk show “The Morning Blend” with host Dwight Strachan.
Dr Brennen said the vast majority of people contracting the disease and being hospitalised are those who have not been fully inoculated against COVID-19.
He said at last report, no fully vaccinated people have died from the disease or are currently in hospital.
Meanwhile, the number of fully vaccinated who tested positive for the virus represents fewer than five percent, he added. These occurrences are known as “breakthrough cases.”
“The last time we looked at it, it still represents less than five percent of what we’re seeing in country (and that is for) persons who’ve been vaccinated who are still getting infected,” Dr Brennen said.
“And most startling is when we start to look at some of the issues that come with hospitalisations, when you look at the deaths, it shows you over and over again – that it is unfortunately individuals who have not been vaccinated who are suffering most from this.
“The last time we checked there were no individuals who had been vaccinated who were currently being hospitalised. That changes from day-to-day, and you know we have more than 100 people on a daily basis in country who are hospitalized from COVID-19.
“You may get one or two here and there but most of those people are not fully vaccinated and when it comes to deaths, we’re seeing that none of the individuals had two doses in and two weeks out from their vaccines. Those individuals are not dying from COVID-19.”
As for re-infections among recovered people, Dr Brennen said the figures are also not significant and in fact, represent less than one percent of newly confirmed cases in the country.
“What we’re able to see is persons who’ve had, you know, tested as positive once were more than three months out from having tested positive were asymptomatic and then test positive a second time.
“We’re counting those as reinfections but what I will say is that does not represent a significant number of our infections in country. Honestly, that represents less than one percent of infections that we’re seeing in country. A lot of what we’re seeing is persons who would’ve been infected that are brand new infections.”
More than 15,000 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the country to date. Active cases tally at 2,019 and 104 people are still in hospital as of Monday.
Speaking about the nation’s climbing COVID-19 numbers, Dr Brennen said relaxed adherence to public health measures coupled with COVID-19 fatigue have largely contributed to the current spike in cases.
He suggested that while COVID-19 variants may also have played a role, it is not the country’s main cause of concern at this time.
“What we have seen so far are variants like the Alpha variant, Iota variant and we have no doubt whatsoever that we have a number of variants and it’s likely as we continue to do our surveillance that we’ll discover the Delta variant as well, but our issue is not so much necessarily the variants themselves,” he said.
“It is that we’re seeing increased numbers of infections going on in country and what we need to do is realise that it isn’t the variants and the differences and the types of coronaviruses isn’t really the issue. It’s our approach as a population as to how we are going about doing our daily tasks that really represent why we are seeing these infections and what we need to do differently,” Dr Brennen added.
“We really need to approach our daily interactions in a way that means we are not going to put ourselves at risk of passing it on to each other. We have to take the public health measures themselves very seriously and we have to make sure that we are not putting ourselves at risk of contracting the virus and then being able to pass it on to other people.”
Asked if he thinks lockdowns are needed to get a handle on the current health crisis, the deputy chief medical officer said he believes it all boils down to personal responsibility and urged Bahamians to keep following the public health protocols.
“It’s going to take each of us doing what is necessary. We know that we need to wear a mask. It shouldn’t be that you’re waiting for the COVID enforcement or the authorities at your workplace or at a social venue to tell you that you need to wear a mask. You should wear that mask,” he said.
“A lockdown shouldn’t be required for us to take personal responsibility and say ‘I’m not going to put myself in that environment so this isn’t a let’s wait for someone to give me restrictions so I can complain that there are restrictions in place.
“We need to take the approach that I’m not going to put myself at risk, I’m not going to put my family at risk. I’m not going to put my community members at risk. This is on us.”
Officials have said 106, 898 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered in The Bahamas as of July 31.
Further, 46,793 are said to be fully vaccinated against the virus, while 61,803 have received their first shot.