Covid-19: UAE doctors explain the Delta variant



Dubai - UAE doctors call for calm but urged residents to get vaccinated, follow all safety precautions.

By Nandini Sircar and 
Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Wed 23 Jun 2021, 7:47 PM

The Delta variant of Covid-19, which is rapidly circulating in some parts of the world, can be a serious cause of concern, if people remain unvaccinated, as compared to other existing variants.

Medical experts have urged residents to get vaccinated as the Delta variant of Covid-19 — first identified in India — has now been detected in other GCC countries.

According to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recent epidemiological update, the Delta variant has been found in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar. Except for Oman, the WHO confirmed the findings in other GCC nations through its official sources. In Oman, the WHO said the information was received from unofficial sources and will be reviewed.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has renamed the multiple different strains of Covid-19 circulating around the world to make them easier to understand. Doctors explained that the four most common variants have been categorised in line with the four letters of the Greek alphabet namely, Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. The Delta variant is the most recently designated ‘variant of concern’, as classified by the WHO.

Dr Muhammed Ayoob, specialist pulmonary disease, NMC Specialty Hospital, Abu Dhabi, noted that the Delta variant is more contagious than the Alpha strain and carries a greater risk of hospitalisation.

“Delta-variant patients have seen symptoms develop more quickly and grow more severe than those in people infected with other variants. Viral loads also climb faster and decline more slowly.”

The WHO has termed the Delta variant as a ‘variant of concern’.

UAE doctors highlighted that headache is the most common symptom caused by the Delta variant, followed by sore throat, runny nose and fever.

Dr Sarla Kumari, a physician at Canadian Specialist Hospital, Abu Hail, Dubai, said “a cough is a rarer symptom with this variant, coming in at the fifth most reported indicator and loss of taste or smell doesn’t even make it into the top 10.”

Dr Pulak Gupta, internal medicine (general practitioner) at Aster Cedars Hospital, Dubai, added: “In this new variant, headache is mainly reported as the first symptom followed by sore throat, runny nose and fever which remains constant in all the variants.”

Doctors urged people to be cautious but not to worry. “Along with the normal precautions of wearing a mask properly, social distancing, and frequent hand washing, we should avoid super spreader events, large gatherings and crowded places to reduce the transmission risk,” said Dr Saheer Sainalabdeen, respiratory medicine specialist, Medeor Hospital Dubai.

“The best way to prevent this is to take both doses of the vaccine,” Dr Sainalabdeen said.

Citing research conducted in the UK, experts said two doses of Pfizer-BioNtech and AstraZeneca vaccines were effective against the Delta variant.

Dr Pulak Gupta, internal medicine (general practitioner) at Aster Cedars Hospital, Dubai, said: “Vaccinations such as Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca have proven to be quite effective against this variant. Hospitalisation and severe cases are reported less.”

Doctors reiterated that if people want to further improve their odds of not getting infected, followinf safety protocols such as wearing a mask, social distancing and avoiding crowded places will work in everyone’s favour.

Dr Anil Grover, internal medicine specialist at Prime Hospital, Dubai, pointed out: “Stopping the spread at the source is the key. Covid-19 appropriate behavior should be continued to reduce transmission which include frequent hand washing, wearing a mask, physical distancing, avoiding crowded places and good ventilation. These measures will continue to work against new variants by reducing the amount of viral transmission and the possibility of the virus to mutate.”

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