UAE: How Covid symptoms today differ from those at the start of pandemic

Doctors are reporting an increase in post-infection symptoms that last months


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Fri 4 Feb 2022, 8:24 AM

Last updated: Fri 4 Feb 2022, 10:37 PM

It has been nearly two years since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UAE. A lot has changed since then, including patients' symptoms.

As compared to a year ago, doctors in the UAE told Khaleej Times that symptoms have now become less severe, and hospitalization rates have decreased significantly. This is mainly due to high vaccination rates and improved immunity.

However, doctors are reporting an increase in post-Covid symptoms that last more than three to four months.

Patients' confidence has substantially improved over the last two years. Earlier, doctors said, patients would come to the hospital, assuming the worst and thinking infection meant certain death.

"A year and a half ago, patients who visited me complaining symptoms of Covid-19 had a very high fever, splitting headache, back and body pain and poor oxygen level. However, now the symptoms are (less severe) like sore throat, mild fever, sweating at night and minor headache, which can be treated with analgesic and good nutrition. As compared to all the variants before, the symptoms have become less severe now," says Dr Mohamed Saifeldin Abdelrahman Mohamed, Pulmonologist, Thumbay University Hospital.

"At the start of the pandemic, coronavirus impacted infected individuals very seriously, where huge numbers of patients were being admitted in critical care with severe Covid pneumonia that needed oxygen support and a variety of antibiotics and anti-viral medications. Two years later, hospitalizations and deaths have been reduced significantly due to the protective effects of vaccines," added Dr Mohammed.

'Back then, Covid patients came with fear of certain death'

Dr Anitha Varghese, general medicine, Aster Clinic, said in the early days of March-April 2020, patients used to come with high fever, breathing difficulty, cough and other mild symptoms.

"More than that, it was very challenging to handle their fear as they all came with the thought that if they are Covid-positive, then death is sure," she said, adding that "we have successfully overcome those challenging days".

"In 2022, the key difference is that the symptoms are easier for us to handle and not getting worse because of vaccination. Now common symptoms are throat irritation, dry cough and body pain. People have got adjusted to the scenario and started accepting the truth of the situation and this made the health workers relaxed to handle any number of cases now," said Dr Vgarghese.

Symptoms last longer now

Dr Salvin George, specialist internal medicine, Medcare Hospital Al Safa, said the current Covid is less virulent for vaccinated individuals.

"Symptoms can vary from mild fever, headache, body ache, flu symptoms and cough. While the previous viruses caused loss of smell and taste, the current pandemic seems not to do so. Most patients are able to isolate at home while monitoring their oxygen levels, hence the rate of hospitalization is significantly low. Although it is able to spread much faster, the complications are much less compared to the previous wave of Covid," said Dr George.

Dr Mohammed revealed that post-Covid symptoms now last longer than a year or two ago.

"We are now facing post-Covid symptoms which sometime last more than three to four months, wherein 80 per cent of the cases are suffering from 'post-viral cough syndrome' that includes lingering coughs after recovering from an upper respiratory infection, and a small percentage of individuals also show persistent body ache and fatigue."

He strongly recommended that people should continue following all protocols, including wearing masks, washing of hands, and hygiene.


The UAE doctors hoped that the coronavirus will become endemic and eventually be treated like other diseases and flu.

"Vaccines have played a very important role in minimizing the symptoms of Covid 19. Still, it's difficult to say whether Covid-19 is fading away because the subject is still under study. A lot of it would depend on how infected patients are clinically analyzed, followed by studies conducted in the coming months. With that in mind, it appears the coronavirus could eventually become a simple seasonal infection, self-limiting and cannot be accounted as a pandemic like before.," added Dr Mohammed.

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