Opinion and Editorial

KT edit: Vaccines for UAE kids could be a game-changer

nida@khaleejtimes.com Filed on August 4, 2021 | Last updated on August 4, 2021 at 12.32 am

Daily cases in the UAE have been hovering a little over 1,500 for over a month, which is a good sign.

With at least 70 per cent of the population covered by the country’s sweeping vaccination campaign over nine months, health authorities are going for 95 per cent by opening up the Sinopharm jabs for 3-17 year olds. This after kids over 12 years were brought under the Pfizer vaccine coverage two months ago. So here’s the truth about vaccines: they work, though they may not prevent transmission between humans as much as previously thought. The jabs on offer might even be less effective against the latest Delta variant. But they are still good enough to prevent hospitalisations and fatalities. With vaccines in more arms, the virus gets less room to move around, infect more people and mutate. Choke the virus by reducing its human imprint is the strategy that has proven very effective thus far in the country.

Daily cases in the UAE have been hovering a little over 1,500 for over a month, which is a good sign. Health authorities have seized the moment to go for near-total vaccination as case numbers are stable and, therefore, in their favour. To make infections fall further, it may be necessary to vaccinate kids as many could be asymptomatic carriers of the virus. They may not be affected but could transmit the pathogen to adults with less immunity. If all goes to plan, schools could see a cautious reopening in September after the vaccination drive for kids. This will give them confidence to return to classrooms after almost 18 months of virtual learning.

Abu Dhabi has already announced plans to open playgrounds and canteens in schools.

The economy is showing signs of sustained revival, hiring has resumed, summer travel is picking up. While these may be positives, it is important to understand that Sars-Cov2 remains a dodgy enemy that returns in waves. And the more pandemic waves there are, the more variants with more spikes can ruin recovery plans. However, Delta, the latest and most dangerous variant that emerged in October last year, is now the dominant variant across the world. No other variants of concern have emerged since then, which gives us time to vaccinate as quickly as we can.But vaccinating eight billion people globally is an onerous task. Like people, vaccines are unequal. Indeed, global inequality is a reality, but we can narrow the gap and ensure some vaccine, any vaccine reaches as many people as possible. The UAE for its part has donated millions of jabs to people across the world. Domestically, it is making the most of the vaccine-induced new normal. It’s time to start living and breathing freely again, which doesn’t mean we can get rid of that mask yet.

Nida Sohail

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