UAE Covid vaccines explained: The 'best' one and new jabs in the pipeline

Dubai - The priority should be to get vaccinated in the fastest, easiest way you can: Official.

By Saman Haziq

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Published: Wed 3 Feb 2021, 3:34 AM

With a number of vaccines now available in the UAE --— and more expected to be approved soon — a top health official reminded residents that there’s no such thing as ‘best vaccine’.

Also read: UAE Covid jabs high in demand; tougher penalties for violators

The priority should be to get vaccinated in the fastest, easiest way you can, said Dr Farida AlHosani, the UAE’s official spokesperson for healthcare sector.

“Time is a crucial factor here, as your wait may make you prone to the disease and its complications. So the most important question to ask is how easily we can get the vaccine and what is the fastest way to get it,” she explained.

It was one of the statements that Dr Al Hosani made as she answered some frequently asked questions in a live awareness session held by EmiratesNBD on its official social platforms. Below is an excerpt from the Q and A.

Q. There are different vaccines being offered, which one is the best?

A. All the vaccines rolled out are proven to be effective and safe. There is no one vaccine that we can point out as best. The need of the hour that everyone should be worried about is: What is the fastest way we can get vaccinated?

Q. What are the kind of vaccines in the pipeline for the UAE?

A. We have approved a list of vaccines that have been also approved by various other countries — at least five or six vaccines are currently approved for either emergency use or (mass use) globally.

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There are currently at least 15 vaccines globally that are being studied and are on the final stages. We are hoping the results of the studies are announced soon. so we can start registering more vaccines.

There is no best vaccine per se, as there are different types of vaccines. The two main types of vaccines are: one made using traditional age-old method using inactivated virus to trigger immunity in our bodies; and the second type of vaccine is Sputnik, where a weakened type of virus (a particle of Sars-Cov2) is injected into our body and can cause antibodies to form.

Upcoming vaccines in the pipeline are protein-based vaccines, such as Novavax, which is based on the entire Sars-CoV-2 spike protein, plus an immune system-activating adjuvant.

We are looking to announce three or four types of protein vaccines soon. These three kinds of vaccines are made using traditional methodology and pass through a complex process.

The other more recent and faster way of making the Covid vaccine is the gene-based mRNA technology, which is used for the Pfizer vaccine. It is a faster and simpler way of producing vaccine compared to the traditional one.

Q. Does the vaccine provide immunity against the new variant?

A. Sars-Cov-2 is from the coronavirus family group, an unstable group that has been emerging time to time, causing different infections like SARS in 2014. These viruses adapt and change their components and features.

The second fact is that there are two types of changes in components of the virus – minor and major.

There have been over 200,000 minor mutations in this virus that didn’t change much of the virus features or its way of transmission.

However, in December 2020, we heard about the emergence of the UK variant of the virus that came with a major change in the spike protein changes of the virus. And now there are at least five different variants reported so far. Several studies are being conducted to understand how they differ from each other...

Some reports from vaccine manufacturers show that UK strain did not change vaccine efficacy but for other variants still researches are going on. But even if the vaccine’s efficacy is affected, it will still be effective to a certain extent.

Q. Do you think the vaccine may become a paid service?

A. Vaccines are an investment that countries do for their community. It is a well-proven, cost-effective intervention that countries decide to invest in. Currently, most countries are offering the Covid vaccine free of charge...and we will continue to keep it free.

Q. After taking vaccine can we travel without test?

A. Vaccine will help reduce the chance of getting infection, but it will not prevent it. Therefore, routine testing is important. If one has been exposed to a Covid-positive person or has to travel, routine testing is important and cannot be eliminated totally.

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