Heading into another autumn of living with the pandemic and as countries across the world are opening up, the UAE is starting to see a distinct return on investment: the past few months' accelerated vaccination drive has begun to pay off.
After a plateau period, Covid-19 cases in the Emirates over the past fortnight have plummeted. The cause and effect are clear: 76 per cent of the UAE's population has been fully vaccinated and 87 per cent has received at least one vaccine dose. The dip in infections also makes apparent the progress that has been made from where we were last year this time. Given the handle the UAE has on the coronavirus, there is reason to be optimistic about the future. A Lancet study has revealed that for adults who've been fully vaccinated, chances of long Covid dropped by half. On Thursday, authorities in Abu Dhabi announced that vaccinated travellers arriving in the emirate from all destinations worldwide would no longer be required to quarantine.
“The UAE has succeeded in reaching the recovery stage,” Dr Farida Al Hosani, health spokeswoman for the federal government said this week. “Two years have passed since the break out of Covid-19 pandemic. We are back to the workplace and our children and all students are back to schools and universities. We are now at full capacity in our economy.”
It has been said before but it bears repetition: the world becomes safer when more people are vaccinated. Ursula von Der Leyen, the president of the European Union's executive arm said the 27-nation bloc has reached its goal of getting 70 per cent of the adults in the EU fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by the end of the summer. It has taken health workers and global authorities a lot of work to reach that position.
Here in the UAE, to maintain the country's comfortable lead, people are advised to follow-up on their jabs and take their booster shots at the earliest opportunity. Abu Dhabi has said that people who received the Sinopharm vaccine more than six months ago need to take their booster shots by September 20, or else face some restrictions to enter public places.
In Dubai, a third dose of the vaccine has also been advised for people suffering from chronic conditions. Those ailing from, say, immune diseases have been advised to check with their doctors to see if they needed a booster of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.
Booster shots will become necessary to ensure the world at large is safer in the coming months. Other countries are on track as well. France this week started administering booster shots to people over 65 and those with underlying health conditions to add to their vaccine protection.
These measures are for the greater good and stem from the best scientific knowledge. There is every reason to safeguard ourselves and our communities. Last year this time the delta variant was not a household phrase. Similarly, we cannot know of mutations that could be pervasive in the future. The World Health Organisation is already monitoring a new variant known as "mu" – identified first in Colombia nine months ago. Given the speed and unpredictability of viruses, there is common sense in being inoculated against all such possible threats.
The benefits of vaccines have been written about continuously over the past year, also in these pages. To a large extent, safety boils down to individual responsibility. We need to continue sanitisation, wearing masks when required and ensure that not only are we ourselves in the best of health – with the Al Hosn app on our devices reflecting a reassuring green status – but that by being up to date with our jabs, we have the moral right to espouse scientific facts to anti-vaxxers in our extended circles and help them rethink their stance. Doing so would be in all our best interests.