UAE official: New Covid strains spread faster, but vaccines effective

Dubai - Special UAE team tracks the new variants, says official.

AFP file photo used for illustrative purpose.
AFP file photo used for illustrative purpose.

Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Wed 24 Mar 2021, 1:56 AM

UAE researchers are closely studying the new strains of SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, and are to be blamed for the surge in the viral outbreak cases globally.

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Dr Farida Al Hosani, spokesperson for the UAE’s health sector, said at the routine Covid-19 briefing on Tuesday that after regular follow-ups and research on the contagion, the health authorities have found that new mutations of the virus are responsible for the rise in the number of Covid-19 cases across the world, as reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently.

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She said the researchers have observed that the mutated strains tend to spread faster and are more transmissible and infectious, but, so far, it does not appear to cause more severe infection, a higher mortality rate, or any kind of different clinical manifestation.

“Since the beginning of the global announcement of new strains, the UAE has been following up on changes and developments in the virus, and a national team was formed to study the tracking of mutated strains in cooperation with all health authorities. The team analyses the situation periodically and reviews recommendations in this regard,” said Al Hosani.

She added that the Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) with its partner health agencies, and in coordination with higher education institutions and public health laboratories, was conducting genetic studies to monitor mutations in the strains prevalent in the country.

Covid-19 vaccines are effective

Reassuring people about the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines in the UAE, Al Hosani said: “Despite the confirmation of the spread of mutated strains worldwide, many studies have proven the effectiveness of vaccines in providing the necessary protection against them.”

She said that the UAE has established a proactive approach in dealing with the pandemic and was one of the first countries in the world to provide the Covid-19 vaccines to the entire population free of charge.

Al Hosani said there has been an updated version of the Al Hosn app to serve as the national electronic registry for the vaccine.

“The data available on the Al Hosn app is from official documents approved by authorities and confirms that one has received the vaccine. The application contains all the data related to Covid-19 doses, which are provided by the various vaccination centres. People can print out their data whenever needed,” she said.

“We’d like to remind everyone that the more people are vaccinated, the more they are building their immunity against Covid-19. The chances of the virus replicating, growing and spreading from one person to another are reduced, which helps reduce the chances of more mutations and variables,” she added.

According to Al Hosani, health authorities in the country were providing all the vaccines and facilitating the procedures for obtaining them. “All individuals who are sixteen years of age and above must ensure that they receive the vaccine to protect themselves, their families and the society,” she said.

She also urged community members to adhere to the Covid-19 precautionary measures and rules during the upcoming Ramadan to ensure the safety and health of all and sundry.

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