The restrictions targeting those who have not yet been vaccinated against the coronavirus (Covid-19) will remain in place, as well as regular testing, until the world reaches a vaccination level where it can be said that the virus has been suppressed.
This was highlighted by HE the Minister of Public Health HE Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari while speaking Wednesday at 'The Economics of Ecology and Public Health' session of the Qatar Economic Forum (QEF), Powered by Bloomberg.
She stressed the importance of testing as a way to ensure the safe reopening of different businesses and economic activities.
HE Dr al-Kuwari said that the level of vaccination globally has not reached the stage where "we can say that the virus has been suppressed".
“Therefore, it is important to protect the community through several restrictions as well as additional tests,” she noted. “Testing, along with the prevailing restrictions, is a very safe way for opening up businesses in unvaccinated areas.”
HE the Minister expressed hope that Qatar could reach herd immunity, especially given that while the coronavirus vaccine markedly limits the transmissibility of the virus, it does not eliminate it altogether.
She said that the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) is still working on how things will look like post-testing and herd immunity, adding that she is optimistic regarding the prospects that most countries can reach the required level of vaccination.
“We hope that the restrictions can be eased when we reach herd immunity,” HE Dr al-Kuwari said. “We have the evidence now that vaccination does significantly reduce the spread of the virus.”
“We are optimistic that with most countries reaching a sufficient level of vaccination, we will see less and less testing, fewer restrictions, and more opening up of countries and economies,” she added.
HE the Minister said that Qatar was keen to get safe and effective vaccines right from the early days of the pandemic.
“From the outset of the pandemic, it was very clear that we need to vaccinate our population as well as the need for a global drive to vaccinate,” she said. “His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani was very clear in his directive.”
“He directed us to procure the most effective and safe vaccines,” she said.
“So, we conducted a thorough study about the vaccines available, though they were in the early stages of clinical trials,” HE Dr al-Kuwari recounted. “We found that Pfizer and Moderna were both promising, as well as AstraZeneca.”
“We had discussions with the pharmaceutical companies and were able to procure enough quantities of vaccines to support our population and support the global drive on vaccination,: she added. “It was also an indication that new innovative technologies are important and there needs to be a continuous drive to support innovation in the pharmaceutical and medical industries.”
She added that the "bet on the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines proved to be a clever one, given they are the most effective".
Replying to a question on whether the coronavirus was leaked from a lab, HE Dr al-Kuwari said that there was an investigation into the matter, following which the investigation report concluded that the virus was not leaked from the lab.
She added that more details will be shared as investigations continue.
As for women's empowerment in the country, HE the Minister stressed that His Highness the Amir and His Highness the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani have been the biggest supporters of women and women's education and empowerment.
Qatar has one of the largest number of educated women, and there are more women graduating from universities than men.
There are women working in some of the important sectors in the country, she added.
(With input from Qatar News Agency)