The insidious virus is still raging across the world with all its ferocity.
For a perspective, global cases are nearing 160mn with deaths exceeding 3.3mn. More than 1.31bn doses of vaccines have been given so far.
But on the brighter side, there are green shoots of hope emerging, especially in countries where a systematic vaccination drive is being implemented by policymakers.
There’s good real-world evidence from Israel, the UK, US and Qatar that vaccines will be highly effective at preventing recipients from developing a serious case of Covid-19, including from an infection caused by a so-called Sars-CoV-2 variant of concern, according to a Bloomberg report.
Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health yesterday announced that 50.1% of the eligible population in the country has received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccines. As much as 87.7% of over-60s (the most vulnerable population group) has been vaccinated with at least one dose, while 80.7% has received both doses.
And Qatar plans to gradually lift Covid-19 restrictions in four phases starting May 28, a top health official said on Sunday.
Covid-19 vaccination in Qatar is highly effective at preventing severe illness due to infection from variants from the UK and South Africa, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the most prestigious medical journal in the world.
Observational analysis in Israel, the first country to report national data on the Pfizer Inc-BioNTech vaccine, showed that two doses provided more than 95% protection against Covid-19 infection, hospitalisation, and death, including among the elderly, at a time when the B.1.1.7 variant was the dominant strain.
The number of new cases in US rose last week at the slowest pace since the pandemic began, as more Americans are vaccinated and the nation recovers from a winter spike fuelled by holiday travel.
In Europe, the UK lowered its alert level and confirmed plans to allow indoor mixing from May 17.
In the Gulf region, ramped-up vaccine rollouts have led to a rebound in economic activity.
In the overall UAE, business conditions are improving amid inoculation efforts in the Arab world’s second-largest economy.
Business activity in Dubai rose to the highest level since late 2019 after a rebound in tourism amid a fast distribution of vaccines. The private sector, excluding oil, grew for a fifth-straight month in April, according to IHS Markit.
Saudi Arabia’s non-oil economy - the engine of job creation - rebounded in the first quarter. The sector grew 3.3% from a year earlier, the strongest since 2019 as the vaccination rollout gathers momentum, according to the kingdom’s General Authority for Statistics.
Covid won’t be a pandemic for “a lot longer” thanks to rapid progress in vaccine development, according to Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease official.
The best defence against the virus and its emerging variants is getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, Fauci has said.
Make no mistake, the world’s long-drawn war against Covid-19 calls for such proactive measures as mass vaccinations as well as strict compliance with precautionary protocols stipulated by national health authorities.
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