Covid vaccine in UAE: Jab takers told to keep masks on

Dubai - Sinopharm Vaccine has efficacy rate close to 90%

By Nandini Sircar

Published: Mon 14 Dec 2020, 4:37 PM

Doctors in the UAE are advising residents to continue wearing their masks and maintain social distancing norms, despite being administered China’s Sinopharm vaccine.

Doctors are unsure whether Covid-19 vaccines will help contain the spread of the viral infection.

Abu Dhabi rolled out the immunisation drive last Thursday and Dubai followed suit on Monday amid an overwhelming public response.

However, doctors have cautioned those who have received the jabs must be careful to protect those who are yet to be inoculated.

Dr Dirar Abdallah, a consultant of internal medicine and the chair of medicine at Prime Hospital in Dubai, said: “Those who have received the jab must not let their guard down. They should continue to wear masks and adhere to social distancing norms. A vaccinated person is protected to a greater extent from contracting a severe form of SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19. However, it’s unlikely to prevent the person from contracting a milder infection or even being asymptomatic.”

He said, “In such a scenario a person can infect others, who are yet to receive the jab. Perhaps, we may look at stop the use of masks after a large section of the population is vaccinated. There is still a high risk of the viral infection spreading from an inoculated person to a non-vaccinated person. Hence, it’s imperative to wear masks.”

Dr Abdallah compared the vaccine to the annual influenza jab. “We give flu vaccines to patients in a bid to prevent them from contracting a severe form of influenza and to avoid other complications that may even lead to death in some cases. If a flu-vaccinated person suffers from influenza, it will be mild and the patient is unlikely to require hospitalisation. A similar situation exists for a person, who has received the Sinopharm jab.”

Dr. Saheer Sainalabdeen, a specialist in respiratory medicine at Medeor Hospital in Dubai, echoed similar sentiments about vaccinated people could be silent spreaders of the contagion.

“If you get vaccinated for Covid-19, it will probably prevent you from taking seriously ill due to the viral infection. But whether it will prevent the spread of infection from one person to another is still not clear. Only further studies will give us a sense about it,” he said.

Sinopharm Vaccine has efficacy rate close to 90%

Doctors also maintain that the vaccine don’t guarantee 100 per cent protection, as the efficacy rate is around 90 per cent.

Dr Kadambari Ramani, general practitioner, Aster Clinic, Al Nahda-Sharjah 1, said: “Efficacy of vaccines is usually tested by tracking the development of disease symptoms in a person exposed to SARS-CoV-2. However, developing the infection and being infected by the virus are two different aspects of the disease. Usually, the body responds to infections by producing antibodies. When a person is attacked by the same virus again, the body remembers it and produces more antibodies faster in a bid to destroy it.”

She added: “Vaccines work by mimicking the first infection. The body can generate a sufficient response of antibodies when attacked by the actual virus. Coronavirus enters the body through the nasal cavity and multiplies from there on.  However, in vaccinated individuals, it is not yet known how quickly the body can mobilise the antibodies to reduce the viral load in the nasal cavity. Vaccines are efficacious enough to prevent manifestation of Covid-19, especially in moderate and severe disease forms. Be that as it may, a person can still carry Covid-19 in h/her nasal capacity and keep spreading it.”

Doctors agree that they are unsure about how long will the immunity last, as clinical trials are still in progress.

Dr Mustafa Saif, a specialist in internal medicine and head of emergency Services at Aster Hospital in Mankhool, Dubai, said: “There is still uncertainty of the immune response generated by vaccines from one person to another as these all are new jabs. It is an open-ended question, whether immunisation is a one-time process or will be required on an annual basis.”

He added: “Influenza cases have significantly gone down because of wearing of masks.”

Abu Dhabi, Dubai, UAE news, expats, law
Abu Dhabi, Dubai, UAE news, expats, law

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