Dr. Farida Al Hosani
Dr. Farida Al Hosani Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause a positive PCR result as the approved vaccines do not contain the live virus causing the disease; thus, the vaccine cannot infect people, Senior UAE Health Official confirmed on Tuesday.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for the elderly in particular, to raise immunity and reduce the chances of complications,” said Dr. Farida Al Hosani, Spokesperson for the UAE Health Sector.

Speaking during the media briefing held by the UAE Government on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Al Hosani clarified that it is difficult to determine how long one’s immunity will last, as the UAE just started the vaccination process. “The effectiveness may vary from patient to another, depending on their immune response and the type of vaccine they receive” she added.

Al Hosani made it clear that the UAE today is witnessing a gradual decrease in the number of cases. “This is a positive indicator, achieved through the implementation of all national protocols and precautionary measures and proactively providing vaccines to all members of society,” she noted.

The Spokesperson outlined that the UAE was able to provide more than 6 million doses to date and to provide the vaccine to 3,614,070 people, completing 46.61 per cent of the target category, adding that the vaccine has been provided to 61.41 per cent of elderly people, the current targeted category.

She stressed that the UAE is pressing ahead with its testing method aimed at early detection to limit the spread of the virus by conducting intensive test for different groups of the society, as the total number of tests surpassed 31 million. “Relative to the total population, the UAE is at the forefront of all countries that conducted COVID-19 tests,” Al Hosani. Further said.

She emphasized that the infection rate of total tests is among the lowest regionally and globally. This is due to the effectiveness of the measures taken, and the use of latest medical testing techniques.

She urged all members experiencing symptoms to go to the nearest health centre, and to provide health authorities with information of individuals who were in-contact with them, adding “Early detection of new cases and their contacts is an important and effective weapon in limiting the spread of the virus, and thus reducing complications and deaths”.

Al Hosani highlighted that there are some people who neglect respiratory symptoms and consider them as normal symptoms and do not seek testing or diagnosis until their health deteriorates and they develop acute respiratory symptoms such as difficulty in breathing.

“As the COVID-19 symptoms are similar to that of the flu or the common cold, the virus can only be differentiated through a PCR test,” she underlined, noting that minor symptoms such as fever, cold or coughing, especially among the elderly and people with chronic diseases, is one major indicator for the need to consult a doctor instead of relying on self-health care.

Speaking on the virus mutation, Al Hosani said: “As the virus spreads and multiply more widely, the chance increases for continuous mutations as this is a natural characteristic and reason of mutation. Our commitment to precautionary measures remains the best way to limit its spread. Early COVID-19 treatment contributes to speeding the healing process, and reduces the possibility developing complications leading to intensive care admission or deaths.

She clarified that international studies have shown that the risk of COVID-19 complications, hospitalization and death doubles for people over 60 years of age and those with chronic diseases.

She explained the measures that can protect the elderly including limiting direct contact with this age group, reducing the visit durations and testiang before the visit, abiding to wearing protective masks, leaving a two meters distance, and washing and sterilizing hands.

Al Hosani went on to say: “Fast medical intervention to assess the disease through medical tests and x-rays is necessary even if the symptoms are mild, as to start treatment early. In event of any respiratory symptoms appear, you must immediately call 999 or visit the nearest health centre,” adding that quarantined individuals can go out in the event of any health emergency, without the need to inform anyone, just go to the nearest hospital and request a medical report as evidence if you faced a penalty.