Covid-19: UAE nears herd immunity, say doctors

As a result of massive vaccination and screening drives, the positivity rate has been dropping rapidly

The Covid-19 pandemic in the UAE is now becoming ‘endemic’ and the country is close to achieving herd immunity, medical experts have said.

On Monday, the health authorities reported 124 fresh cases after conducting 276,637 PCR tests, recording a positivity rate of 0.44. More than 20.5 million vaccine doses have been administered so far, with 95 per cent of the eligible population receiving at least one shot.

Comparatively, when the vaccination drive was in its nascent stage, on January 28, a total of 3,966 positive cases were detected from 168,781 PCR tests, a positivity rate of 2.34.

As a result of massive vaccination and screening drives, the positivity rate has been dropping rapidly. And doctors underlined that communities are now seeing low levels of transmission. The number of fresh cases has been below 400 since September 19.

“A disease is considered endemic when it remains constantly maintained at a baseline level and is predictable and manageable in the community,” said Dr Sangeeta Sharma, medical director of Al Ahalia Hospital, Abu Dhabi.

Dr Rajesh Kumar Gupta, internal medicine specialist at Burjeel Specialty Hospital, Sharjah, noted: “More than 85 per cent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated. We have seen a drastic fall in the number of new cases, which suggests that the level of transmission is low. We will soon see the daily caseloads drop to below 100. All of this suggests that the UAE is in a stage of endemicity.”

The last time the number of new cases was less than 100 was in March 2020, during the initial outbreak of Covid in the UAE.

“If the numbers hold true, we can say that the country is reaching a stage of endemicity. The numbers are coming down significantly,” said Dr Jimmy Joseph, internal medicine specialist at Aster Speciality Medical Centre, Dubai International City.

Doctors pointed out that with a highly successful vaccination drive, the UAE is inching towards herd immunity. The authorities have already relaxed restrictions on gatherings, travel, among others.

Dr Joseph said: “Studies have shown that vaccination has been able to reduce the severity of infections significantly. Sooner or later, we will reach herd immunity.”

Dr J.M. Gauer, CEO of RAK Hospital, underlined that the strict precautionary measures and robust campaigns are now showing positive results.

“The drastic and relatively rapid reduction of new Covid cases does indeed indicate that the vast majority of the population in the UAE has developed a good level of immunity. In my opinion, it is probably fair to say that the coveted goal of herd immunity has been achieved to a large extent.”

Dr Gupta stressed that booster shots are also ensuring that the high-risk groups are protected.

“Booster doses have been given to a significant number of the population, including the elderly, the vulnerable, and healthcare workers.”

However, doctors maintained that people must continue to take precautionary measures like wearing masks and using hand sanitisers.

“We have to keep in mind that the virus is still out there. We seem to be on the safe side in the UAE; however, on a global scale, mutations are still happening. Constant vigilance, including re-administration and adaptation of vaccines, will remain at the top of the agenda. Covid is here to stay. We will have to live with it at least in the foreseeable future,” Dr Gauer added.


Ashwani Kumar

I am a newspaperman from the emirate of Abu Dhabi. A journalist at heart. I get my stories from the streets. A south Indian born in the Hindi heartland, I easily connect with people from different nationalities and cultures. I am calm like a monk, sensitive and very patient reporter. On the ground, I cover a range of topics related to community, health, embassy, tourism, transport, business and sports. I will go out on a leg to do what’s right and stand by what I believe in.

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