Doctors in Dubai say Pfizer jab eases pressure on medical community

Medics welcome arrival of second vaccine

Related: Pfizer vaccine in Dubai: How to book an appointment

Medics in Dubai welcomed the arrival of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.

Health chiefs began inoculating people on Wednesday with frontline workers and high-risk groups prioritised.

The Pfizer vaccine is the second to be approved for use in the UAE after China's Sinopharm.

Doctors here said their availability is a huge win for the community and will save lives.

Everyone is waiting for the virus to be finished

Dr Adel Alsisi

Dr Adel Alsisi, chief medical officer of Prime Hospital, said having options was a huge benefit.

“In a few months we will see the efficacy and safety of the vaccine because millions of people will have it," he said.

"We will have an accurate and large pool of data about whether people have a high concentration of antibodies or do they have any illness or not,” he said.

“Everyone is just waiting for the virus to be finished. We are lucky that we work in the UAE, which is constantly looking at new lines of treatment."

Also critical is the fact healthcare workers are getting inoculated first, ensuring their safety on the front lines.

“It is really very encouraging," said Dr Saheer Sainalabdeen, respiratory medicine specialist at Medeor Hospital in Dubai.

Dr Saheer Sainalabdeen, respiratory medicine specialist at Medeor Hospital in Dubai, says the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine is a relief to health workers. Courtesy: Medeor Hospital
Dr Saheer Sainalabdeen, respiratory medicine specialist at Medeor Hospital in Dubai, says the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine is a relief to health workers. Courtesy: Medeor Hospital

“Taking the vaccine does not mean you will not get Covid. But for healthcare workers who are with patients all the time, it is reassuring to know you are protected. It will prevent complications like needing a ventilator, so that is a relief.”

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine offers up to 95 per cent protection against Covid-19. The first doses arrived in the UAE from Brussels on an Emirates cargo plane and vaccinations started almost immediately.

But Covid-19 is still deadly and medics cautioned against complacency in the fight against the virus.

Dr Sainalabdeen said wearing masks and observing social distancing remained important since no vaccine was an ironclad guarantee against coronavirus.

“This ... opens things up," Dr Sainalabdeen said. " As doctors, we treat anybody who comes into the hospital with fever and cough as a Covid patient. We are always taking precautions. Everyone must do the same.”

Dr Payal Modi, specialist microbiologist and chairperson of infection control at NMC Royal in Dubai Investment Park, took the Sinopharm vaccine and was excited about the second vaccine.

“The whole world is waiting for the Pfizer vaccine, including the medical community,” she said. “We are lucky that we [Dubai] are getting the Pfizer vaccine.”

Dr Modi said people should not worry about which vaccine to get.

“When a vaccine is chosen at a country or at an emirate level, everything has already been discussed with the regulatory bodies," she said.

The Pfizer vaccine is based on a new type called an mRNA that uses a tiny fragment of genetic code from Covid-19 to instruct cells in the body to fight infection and build immunity.

Two injections 21 days apart are required and it must be stored at about minus 70°C.

Updated: December 24, 2020 10:30 AM

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