Coronavirus: UAE administers 10 million vaccine doses

Milestone for one of the world's fastest vaccination programmes

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The UAE administered 10 million vaccine doses against Covid-19 in just a few months.

The country hit the milestone on Thursday, after 101,239 more people received a shot against the disease in the previous 24 hours.

This took the total number of doses administered to 10,001,241 or 101.12 for every 100 people.

Commenting on the achievement, the Minister of Health and Prevention highlighted the importance of choosing to vaccinate "to ensure recovery from the pandemic".

If the vaccination is proceeding at this rate, we can achieve development of herd immunity in the public at the earliest

Abdulrahman Al Owais said the success of the vaccination programme was a result of "the vision and directives of the country’s leadership, and the significant efforts of the health sector and all front-line defenders to protect the community's health and safety".

"The four types of vaccines are being distributed free to all segments of the community and in all areas of the country, and they are safe and highly efficient," Mr Al Owais said.

More than half the UAE population have now been vaccinated, which has helped to bring new cases down from a high of almost 4,000 a day in January to about 2,000 in recent weeks.

About 5.1 million people have received their first dose of a vaccine, while more than 3.8 million people are fully inoculated.

That represents about 65 per cent of those in the country eligible to receive the vaccine. Anyone under the age of 16 cannot be inoculated.

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, and chairman of the National Covid-19 Crisis Recovery Management and Governance Committee, called on people to keep coming forward to receive the inoculation.

"The country is keen to provide the Covid-19 vaccine to all eligible categories of people," Dr Al Jaber said.

"The co-operation of all members of the community and their support for the national efforts has helped the campaign to achieve its goals."

The director general of the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, Obaid Al Shamsi, said: "The campaign’s success is the outcome of the vision of the country’s leadership, which is keen to facilitate the provision of the vaccine to all segments of the community in record time."

Herd immunity is the goal

Doctors said the number of positive cases had fallen  significantly in recent weeks.

"If the vaccination is proceeding at this rate, we can achieve development of herd immunity in the public at the earliest and hope to defeat this pandemic soon," said Dr Azeem Abdul Salam Mohamad, a specialist in internal medicine at Bareen International Hospital in Abu Dhabi.

Dr Jyothish George, director of Prime Home Care Services and head of vaccinations at Prime Healthcare Group, said vaccines were the best line of defence against Covid-19.

"They will steadily help the UAE achieve the goal of herd immunity," Dr George said.

But doctors said it is not known how many people will need to receive the vaccine to achieve herd immunity.

It could be as high as 90 per cent of the population, they said.

"It's different for different infections," said Dr Manohar Reddy, a specialist in internal medicine at NMC Specialty Hospital, Abu Dhabi.

Although case numbers may have fallen in recent weeks, the country is "not out of the woods yet", Dr Reddy said.

"So far, the Sinopharm vaccine has shown immunity against new variants," he said.

"But new emerging variants will be spreading across the globe. The efficacy of the vaccine on new strains has to be closely observed."

The UAE conducted the world’s second-fastest vaccination programme, behind Israel but ahead of the UK.

It began its drive about four months ago, which has mainly been led by the shot developed by Chinese company Sinopharm.

Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are also available in Dubai.

And on Wednesday, Pfizer-BioNTech was made available in 11 clinics across Abu Dhabi, by appointment.