Covid: Get vaccinated, help UAE fight new variants, doctors urge
The medics’ comments are in light of recent reports that the new Covid variants were responsible for more infections in the country.
Health experts in the UAE are renewing their call for all eligible members of the public to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Vaccines are a critical tool in the battle against the pandemic and are quite effective against all strains, including the Delta variant, they said.
The medics’ comments are in light of recent reports from UAE authorities that the new Covid variants were responsible for more infections in the country.
Dr Farida Al Hosani, the official spokesperson of the UAE health sector, said last week that the Covid Beta variant was currently responsible for the greatest number of Covid-19 infections across the UAE.
She explained that based on the genetic investigation system for coronavirus variants in the country, they found that the most commonly present strain, Beta, is currently responsible for 39.2 per cent of the total infections, followed by Delta causing 33.9 per cent of infections, and Alpha with 11.3 per cent.
Explaining the new variants, Dr Faisal Hamza Dalvi, specialist internal medicine, Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi, said that when a virus replicates or makes copies of itself, it sometimes changes a little bit.
“These changes are called mutations. A virus with one or several new mutations is referred to as a variant of the original virus,” he said.
“The Delta variant, first reported in India, is considered a 'superspreader' strain of SARS-CoV-2. It is one of the four variants of concern (VoC) identified by WHO. There is growing evidence that it is going global. The other variants of concern are Alpha, Beta and Gamma,” he added.
Covid-19 vaccine: Now more important than ever
According to the latest data released by the UAE’s health authorities, nearly 90 per cent of new Covid cases, hospitalisations, admissions to the ICU, and deaths have been of unvaccinated people.
Dr Dalvi noted that the Delta variant is, by far, the most transmissible and also has been able to resist the antibodies people have in their blood.
“We need a higher level of antibodies to overcome this variant. This can be achieved by vaccines,” said the Indian doctor.
He pointed out that the Covid -19 vaccines have been effective in reducing the number of patients who need hospitalisation and intensive care as well as in lowering the rate of deaths.
“We need to take both the doses of vaccine in order to give us full immunity against all the variants,” he said.
“The main goal of these vaccines is to prevent severe disease, because what we want is for people, even if they get the infection, to recover from it and not become seriously ill.”
According to Dalvi, what the world needs today is to break this chain of transmission and get a control over this disease. “This is why we recommend everyone get vaccinated,” he said.
Echoing similar sentiments, Dr Shivadas Menon, Specialist Internal Medicine, Aster Al Rafa Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi, said getting vaccinated by the available Covid 19 vaccines definitely gives protection against these new variants to prevent serious disease, hospitalisation and deaths.
“One study in the UK by Public Health England showed that the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines offer more than 90 per cent protection against hospitalisation, when it comes to the Alpha variant and the latest Delta variant,” he said.
“Thus, the need for everyone to be vaccinated against these variants is of prime concern. Booster doses with available vaccines may give better protection against these new variants.”
Dr Rasha Alani, Specialist Family Medicine – Medcare Medical Centre, Al Khawaneej, said one of the most important concepts of vaccination is to prevent complications.
“Yes, there is an infection percentage, but it will range from simple to mild only, as per the latest studies. Vaccination saves thousands of lives and reduces respiratory complications, as evident here in UAE. We are getting less hospital admissions and less need for ICU admissions because of the many people that have received the vaccine,” she said, adding that increasing numbers of vaccinated people also decreases the rate of Covid infections.
“Everyone should get the Covid-19 vaccine whenever it is available to them,” she said.
Need to vaccinate eligible children/teenagers
The health experts have also appealed to parents to ensure that children aged 12 and above get vaccinated during the current summer vacation, as they prepare for in-person learning during the new school year, which begins on August 29.
“It is important that parents have their teenage children inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine to ensure their safety before they return for physical lessons during the new school year,” said Dr Dalvi.
Last week, the UAE Ministry of Education (MoE) intensified the campaign to encourage parents to get their children, aged 12-15, vaccinated against Covid-19.
“To protect the safety and security of our children and those around them, the vaccine is available for children between 12-15 years,” the MoE said on Twitter.
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