Coronavirus: Covid-19 vaccine may not permanently prevent infection, says UAE official

Official says studies have shown that immunity only lasts a few months and someone could be reinfected

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Immunity from Covid-19 can last between five to seven months before an individual is vulnerable for reinfection, a UAE official said on Tuesday.

Dr Omar Al Hammadi, spokesperson for the UAE's regular Covid-19 briefings, said studies had shown that individuals could contract the virus for a second time or even after being vaccinated against it.

He said people could develop immunity from a virus in two ways; the first is when an individual is infected with the virus and the body produces antibodies and the second is by taking a vaccine.

"Receiving a tested vaccine is the safest way to develop immunity and this is what the UAE and the world is investing its resources into producing," he said.

Antibodies produced in response to a vaccination could last in a body forever or for a limited time, said Dr Al Hammadi. But this is determined by the strength of an individual's immunity and by a virus adapting.

"The virus is only 11 months old so it is difficult to tell what the rate of reinfection is or how long antibodies against the virus will last. These will be determined over time as more research is carried out," he said.

Dr Al Hammadi also presented data indicating that Covid-19 case numbers across the UAE had increased by 15 per cent over the past seven days.

Between October 28 and November 3, 8,525 cases were reported. Throughout that period, testing also rose by 3 per cent, totalling 803,579 screening nationwide. This showed that just 1 per cent of the tests had a positive Covid-19 outcome.

The number of recoveries increased by 9 per cent, with 11,032 cleared of the virus. And 21 people died, taking the death rate to 0.4 per cent – one of the lowest in the world, said Dr Al Hammadi.

He called on the public to get tested for the virus, should they feel any symptoms of sickness.

"It is not possible to tell if you have influenza, a common cold or Covid-19 unless you are tested," he said.

People who test positive for the virus will undergo a medical check-up by a doctor, who will chose the appropriate course of action.

The elderly, people with pre-existing conditions and anyone presenting very strong symptoms will be admitted to hospital for treatment.

If a patient responds well to treatment, they may be discharged and asked to quarantine at home until they are cleared of the virus.

Dr Al Hammadi urged people not to take matters into their own hands by self-medicating at home and to seek medical advice.

"The correct treatment can only be determined by a specialised doctor," he said.