Covid-19 in UAE: World can end pandemic but only if nations work together, say experts

There still needs to be a ‘back-up plan’ because the world might not have enough vaccine to reach herd immunity anytime soon.


Suneeti Ahuja Kohli

Published: Mon 26 Apr 2021, 11:21 PM

The world can end the Covid-19 pandemic but it will require countries and global organisations to work together, health industry leaders and experts said on Monday, during the virtual Majlis Mohamed Bin Zayed Ramadan Series.

“In the case of smallpox, we had a vaccine for 200 years before we were able to get the countries of the world to agree to mount a global programme and put all of our efforts together towards that one amazing thing of eradicating the first disease in human history,” said Dr Larry Brilliant, physician, epidemiologist and chair of the Advisory Board of the NGO Ending Pandemics.

During the current pandemic, technology gives the world hope, he added. “With the 21st-century innovations and the lessons we’ve learnt from conquering smallpox and other diseases, we don’t have to go door to door anymore. We can use digital disease detection systems. We can use exposure notification systems to find asymptomatic cases of Covid. And we can add those to the amazing technology with rapid diagnostic tests.”

Dr Brilliant argued, however, that there still needs to be a ‘back-up plan’ because the world might not have enough vaccine to reach herd immunity anytime soon, and perhaps as many as 200 countries will not have enough vaccine to immunise a quarter, a third or half of their people in the next several years.

“We’re not going to be able to vaccinate 7.5 billion people especially not with two doses, especially not in the next four or five years. During that period of time, this vaccine will infect hundreds of millions of people more. And then each one of those people who are sick, there will be hundreds of billions of individual viruses. So we need to have a back-up plan.

“We have to find ways to work together with all of our brothers and sisters from every country in the world, under the auspices of the WHO and the United Nations,” he said.

Titled ‘Safer and Stronger Together: Improving Global Health and Wellbeing’, the talk featured Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi, in conversation with local and international experts involved in combatting communicable illnesses and advancing the global health agenda.

A key focus during the discussion was the importance of global collaboration for defeating the coronavirus pandemic.

“If the pandemic has proven anything, it is that the world can only face diseases and outbreaks by coming together. Our best bet is to continue collaborating across borders to lay solid foundations for action, encourage the exchange of expertise between countries, and rally international efforts to face any health challenges that may arise in the future,” said Sheikh Hamed.

Talking about the importance the UAE government gives to the health sector and the measures it has taken to contain the spread at home and in other countries, Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, said: “The UAE has always been at the forefront of efforts through its initiatives and field work under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who made the concept of ‘reaching the last mile’ a top priority of the UAE’s Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“The UAE was also able to translate this trend in the spirit of collective responsibility into a rapid response as it started to ship and deliver medical aid and equipment for various uses, and most importantly, the urgent distribution of vaccines through the Coalition of Hope.”

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