Coronavirus: Vaccine volunteers can still transmit Covid-19, say UAE officials

Authorities urge volunteers to adhere to precautionary measures and avoid infecting others

Health authorities have warned vaccine volunteers not to drop their guard against Covid-19 and urged them to adhere to the safety measures mandated by the government.

During a briefing on Tuesday, officials said the vaccine was still in its testing phase and the second dose takes four weeks to improve the volunteer's immunity to a degree that allows their body to fight off the virus completely.

People can still contract the virus and infect others during that four-week period, said Dr Omar Al Hammadi, spokesman for the UAE's Covid-19 briefings.

"The volunteer’s immunity only provides them protection and not for those around them, including their family or colleagues. The volunteer could transmit the infection to them if they do not adhere to the preventive measures," he said.

He advised members of the public to wear their face masks, commit to physical distancing and frequently wash their hands as the world enters flu season.

The volunteer could transmit the infection to them if they do not adhere to the preventive measures

Dr Al Hammadi said battling influenza season during the Covid-19 pandemic would put pressure on the country's healthcare facilities but that individuals could help by getting vaccinated for the flu.

He said most healthy patients could recover from the flu but it is particularly dangerous for the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions.

"Protecting yourself against the flu requires the same steps as protecting yourself from Covid-19: social distancing, wearing a face mask and avoiding touching surfaces and then touching your face," he said.

He advised the public to get the flu shot this year. It takes about two weeks for the body to develop antibodies to protect against the virus, he said.

Dr Al Hammadi reiterated that the flu vaccine would not protect a person from Covid-19 but would help boost immunity should someone contract both viruses.

The symptoms for both illnesses are almost identical and can only be differentiated with a PCR test.

On Tuesday, Dr Al Hammadi revealed that the UAE had become the first country to conduct more Covid-19 tests than the total population – having passed more than 10.2m screenings since January.

The UAE carried out 720,802 Covid-19 tests this week, up 8 per cent from the previous week. From these tests, 7,704 new cases were identified, indicating a 16 per cent increase in infections compared with the week before.

He said 19 patients died of the virus this week, representing a 73 per cent increase in deaths from the previous week.

And the recovery rate this week increased by 24 per cent from the week before.

Dr Al Hammadi said the country had taken measured steps to reopen specific sectors in a safe way.

Among these is the education sector, which the UAE's leaders outlined as a priority.

So far, 1,025 schools in the UAE are conducting distance learning while 212 schools are offering in-person classes. 201,797 pupils attend in-person classes.

The briefing came as the UAE passed 100,000 cases after reporting 1,061 new Covid-19 infections on Tuesday.

Health officials said six people died, the highest single-day figure since May, taking the toll to 435.

The number of recoveries reached 90,556, with a further 1,146 patients given all-clear by the authorities.

The latest infections were detected after 102,349 tests were carried out in the past 24 hours.

The Emirates has carried out more than 10.2 million coronavirus tests since the beginning of the outbreak and recorded 100,794 cases.