The UAE not only carries out more Covid-19 tests than anywhere else in the world, but it’s also the most vaccinated nation.
This according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker, and UAE reports that nearly two-thirds of the population have received two doses of vaccine.
Almost three-quarters of the country’s 9.7 million residents have had at least one vaccine jab, according to the figures released by the National Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management Authority and the Ministry of Health and Prevention. Altogether, 15.6 million doses have been administered, enough to cover 72.1 percent of the population, meaning the UAE has now overtaken the Seychelles in vaccinations, which has a population of only 100,000. The country is currently vaccinating more than 76,000 people per day.
The UAE also now five types of vaccine to residents: Sinopharm, Pfizer-BionTech, Astra-Zeneca, Sputnik V and the just-approved Moderna vaccine.
Despite all these efforts, Covid infection rates continue to hover around the 1,500 to 2,000-per-day mark, prompting the authorities to introduce a “Green Pass” system to encourage people to get vaccinated.
The Green Pass rules stipulates that from August 20, only vaccinated people will be allowed into Abu Dhabi’s public spaces.
Moving out of the country also remains difficult with Saudi Arabia suspending travel and the US last week placing the UAE on its highest risk list, while the UAE remains on the UK’s Red List, meaning anyone arriving in Britain from the UAE must spend 10 days in a quarantine hotel at their own expense.
The UAE began rolling out its vaccination program last December with the Sinopharm vaccine, but uncertainty over the duration of immunity and doubts over acceptance of the Chinese-made vaccine abroad (it is still not fully approved by the European Union), has led some to opt for a “booster” third jab or to get re-vaccinated with a different vaccine — even though it goes against medical advice.
UAE health authorities have cautioned that taking on additional doses of vaccine could expose people to unwanted health complications.
In Abu Dhabi, anyone wanting another jab must obtain signed consent from a general practitioner. Booster jabs should be given according to medical need “and not for any other reason”, said Dr Farida Al Hosani, the government’s health spokesperson.
Consent from a GP is not a requirement in Dubai but people are expected to be truthful about their vaccine history when they go to a clinic.
More than nine out of 10 people who have died of Covid in recent months were not vaccinated. At a media briefing, Dr Al Hosani stressed that the unvaccinated were at the greatest risk of contracting the virus.
Anna Pukas has reported from all over the world as a foreign correspondent for British media. She is now an editor based in Abu Dhabi.