Global pandemic policy is the need of the hour

Last week, most of the country opened up to a new sense of freedom as cases fell below 1,000

Published: Wed 2 Mar 2022, 11:33 PM

Last updated: Wed 2 Mar 2022, 11:49 PM

Freedom is in the air as the UAE goes maskless, at least outdoors. PCR tests are also not needed for passengers from most countries even as the world watches cautiously for the current wave led by the Omicron variant to end.

Last week, most of the country opened up to a new sense of freedom as cases fell below 1,000. Now schools in Dubai are making it easier for students who are not required to wear masks outside classrooms in playgrounds.

It’s been more than two years to find this sense of freedom, a quasi-liberation from the virus that still remains a threat to global health and the economy.

It’s unclear if another variant or wave is expected but some scientists in India say the country should gear up for a fourth wave in June.

The model may or may not be true but it’s important to understand that the world has come a long way from 2020 but still has a long way to go for a consensus on how to deal with future pandemics.

Could a new coronavirus emerge? Will it be more potent and virulent?

Current vaccines are limited in scope as Omicron has shown us. Though most prevent severe illness and death, none prevents the spread of infection.

Many countries, including the UAE, have encouraged their citizens to take boosters as an added precaution.

The priority is to keep cases low to return to normalcy. Omicron may have spread faster than Delta but caused fewer fatalities. In hindsight, the panic may have been unwarranted.

The challenge for economies has been to balance life with the vagaries of the virus. Here the UAE has come up on top. It remains the top country to live in during Covid-19 and has opened to businesses and people quicker than other countries.

Omicron did slow down the recovery but caused less damage as officials and people worked in tandem to see off the worst of the wave.

The UAE learned to live with the virus fairly early in the pandemic. The strategy was to deal with clusters, test and contain the spread of infection.

A bio-bubble was created when the need arose, and the system has served the country well. All this while the government has continued to sustain businesses with stimulus packages and opening its doors to visitors from across the world.

However, vaccine inequity remains a concern in developing and lower-income countries in Africa though there are enough jabs to go around.

Covax the global vaccine distribution platform has stepped in to fill the gaps to some extent but the challenge for the world is the emergence of more super viruses.

Unless potent pan-coronaviruses vaccines are developed and a global pandemic policy is framed, the chance of another global health crisis appears closer than distant.

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