UAE hits 15 million vaccine doses, leads world rankings
As many as 103,196 vaccine doses were given in the last 24 hours.
The UAE's National Vaccination Programme scales a new milestone of administering 15 million doses and keeping the top rank in the vaccine distribution rate globally.
On Saturday, authorities announced that as many as 103,196 vaccine doses were given in the last 24 hours to reach an overall 15.04 million doses at a distribution rate of 152.10 doses per 100 people.
The achievement assumes greater significance as it comes on a week when the WHO's Covid-19 epidemiological update revealed the Delta variant - a more transmissible strain of Covid-19 - being reported in 85 countries worldwide, including GCC countries barring the UAE.
Medical experts lauded the UAE's management of Covid situation till date with RT-PCR testing, tracking and tracing app, world-class treatment, quarantine and isolation facilities, strict norms including travel curbs and border restrictions boosted by the best vaccination rate.
However, the Delta variant is posing new challenges as it's spreading rapidly: 85 countries (June 22), 80 (June 15) and 74 (June 8).
Even though no new variants were reported in the UAE, doctors noted that the threat from Delta and Delta Plus were a cause of concern.
Dr Rajesh Kumar Gupta, specialist internal medicine, Burjeel Specialty Hospital, Sharjah, said both the variants are 40 per cent more infectious, 100 per cent more transmissible and highly contagious.
"The variants pose greater risk of hospitalisations, affecting more in younger people, and more resistant to health controls and prevention measures."
Doctors underlined the impact of the UAE's vaccination campaign in "keeping the situation under control". They said the vaccination shots continue to be the "most effective tool" against any variant, including the Delta and Delta Plus.
Dr Umar Majid, specialist pulmonologist, NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Ain, said: "The Delta variant was seen more among those who were not vaccinated. To prevent infection and serious health issues, unvaccinated people should be encouraged to take the jab."
Dr Phalguna Kousika Katakam, specialist paediatrician, Dar Al Shifa Medical Centre, Abu Dhabi, noted though vaccination cuts the chances of hospitalisation in cases infected with Delta variant.
"Complete vaccination with the currently available vaccines prevents hospitalisation even in the Delta variant. Whereas the Delta Plus is a more recent variant with a new spike mutation, and its effect is yet to be studied."
On Delta Plus, Dr Gupta said the mutant variant seems to be escaping human immunity and stressed on the importance of vaccination.
"The variant might be immune to the antibodies produced by vaccines or past-Covid infections produced antibodies or new monoclonal antibody cocktail. Therefore, early mass vaccination is still the mainstay of prevention, along with isolation and other measures to limit the spread."
Asked how doctors can detect if a new patient is infected with the Delta or Delta Plus variant, Dr Majid pointed out that fully vaccinated individuals will be least affected.
"It is very difficult to know on a clinical basis that a patient is infected by a different variant of coronavirus, suspicion should be high in non-vaccinated, single-dose recipients, those who travel outside the UAE, participate in any international events inside or outside the UAE."
Meanwhile, Dr Katakam lauded the UAE's initiative in vaccinating children aged 12 and above.
"Complete vaccination with two doses is the key to controlling the severity of the disease in future variants. Vaccines for 1-12 years is under study and hope to give positive results on the control of the pandemic and newer variants."
Doctors have urged those who still remain unvaccinated to take the free jab. Currently, Sinopharm, Hayat-Vax, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sputnik V and Oxford-AstraZeneca are being offered to the eligible group in addition to the provision of booster doses.
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