Covid in UAE: Low death rates even as daily infections rise

Omicron variant causes milder respiratory symptoms than other variants, doctors say



File photo
File photo

By SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Thu 6 Jan 2022, 3:35 PM

Last updated: Thu 6 Jan 2022, 4:17 PM

Even as daily Covid-19 cases crossed the 2,700-mark, the country’s death rates from the coronavirus remains low. The number of deaths reported daily has remained below two over the past several days, with no fatalities reported on most days.

Doctors affirm that the primary reason behind this is the UAE’s robust vaccination campaign that has seen 100 per cent eligible residents get at least one dose of a vaccine, and over 92 per cent fully vaccinated.

The vaccination, and the current booster dose drive, is also helping prevent hospitalisations, complications and deaths, with most infected cases reporting mild symptoms. This is in line with global studies that suggest the Omicron variant is less fatal.

As per a study published in JAMA journal dated December 30, 2021, the daily cases are increasing but the majority of the cases are mild.

“The Omicron variant causes milder respiratory symptoms than other variants,” said Dr Srinivasa Rao Polumuru, specialist in internal medicine, NMC Speciality Hospital.

"Though Omicron variant is highly contagious, fatality rates are much less ( less than 3%) in people who are vaccinated with booster dose as per this study in South Africa," added Dr Rao

The SARS-CoV-2 variant of coronavirus, B.1.1.529 named Omicron has very higher infectivity, compared to previous variants like Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta, which has led to the sudden spike in the number of cases across UAE, said Dr Fiaz Ahamed, MD, Infection Control Physician, Thumbay University Hospital.

“Because the country has very high vaccinated individuals, it has been observed that all the admissions in the hospital due to Covid-19 are mild cases that hardly require the supplemented oxygen support. It indicates that this variant is much better than the previous ones-in terms of death due to the infection.”

Medicos say that the positive cases from the new variant requires only home isolation. “The new strains is easily spreading among people but the illness is far lesser because of the character of the mutation and the status of vaccinations,” Dr. Mohamed Aslam, specialist pulmonologist, International Modern hospital, Dubai.

“It is mainly due to vaccination that has made the severity of the illness very less,” added Dr Aslam.

On December 6, 2021, UAE recorded below 50 covid-19 positive cases, which saw a sudden surge. About 665 cases were reported on December 22, with very low hospitalisation rates. Most of the beds in hospitals and intensive care units are vacant.

Doctors say that vaccinated and unvaccinated residents will act different to the virus based on their body immunity. “The available vaccinations against Covid-19 have proven to protect individuals against severe illness, hospitalisation and even deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant,” said Dr Fiaz.

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“It has been noted that the protection against Omicron is 25 times higher in individuals who have taken two shots and a booster compared to individuals just taken the primary vaccination of two shots,” added Dr Fiaz.

Doctors have advised the fully vaccinated residents not to be complacent and over-confident, and strictly adhere to the Covid-19 protocols laid down by the authorities.

ayaz@khaleejtimes.com


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