The advantages of Qatar’s excellent rate of vaccination against Covid-19 is becoming more and more evident and laudable as the latest studies undoubtedly prove that vaccination remains the best defence against severe illness and death from the pandemic, even for those infected with the delta variant. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr Rochelle Walensky told reporters last Thursday that the delta Covid variant is one of the most infectious respiratory diseases ever seen by scientists. The variant is highly contagious, largely because people infected with the delta strain can carry up to 1,000 times more virus in their nasal passages than those infected with the original strain, according to new data.
“The delta variant is more aggressive and much more transmissible than previously circulating strains,” Dr Walensky explained while observing that “it is one of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of, and that I have seen in my 20-year career.” The delta variant has spread quickly through the US, accounting for more than 83% of sequenced cases in the US right now, up from 50% the week of July 3. The seven-day average of new cases is up about 53% from last week, currently at 37,674 new cases per day. Hospitalisations are up 32% from last week at about 3,500 per day and deaths have also increased 19% in the same time frame to about 240 per day. The virus is ripping through US counties with low vaccination rates, while counties with high vaccination rates are seeing lower rates of new cases.
Three states, Florida, Texas and Missouri, with low vaccination rates accounted for 40% of all new cases nationwide. Florida alone accounted for one in five of all new cases in the US for the second week in a row. In hospitals around the country, 97% of people admitted with Covid symptoms are unvaccinated, and 99.5% of all Covid deaths are also among the unvaccinated.
In Qatar, more than 3.6mn Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the start of the national vaccination programme against the pandemic. Over 79% of the eligible population has now received at least one dose of the vaccine. As many as 98.6% of over 60s (the most vulnerable population group) have been vaccinated with at least one dose, while 93.5% have received both doses. In recent weeks the combined impact of Covid-19 restrictions and increasing vaccination rates, and the overwhelming support of the community, has resulted in a consistent reduction in the number of new daily infections in the country. However, it is still important to be cautious as the second wave is not yet over and there are still two highly contagious and highly virulent strains of the virus that are actively circulating in the community.
The third phase of the gradual lifting of precautionary restrictions began on July 9, and is part of a four-stage plan. The date of implementation and the duration of each phase will depend on the pandemic indicators which depend to a great extent on the degree of compliance of the community members with the current measures, restrictions and guidance by the government. It is important during the current period that all members of society, including those who have received the vaccination, continue to wear masks as recommended and continue to adhere to social distancing.
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