As authorities warn people to continue taking precautions to weaken a potential second wave of COVID-19, a Qatar-based infectious diseases expert has assured vaccines could be ready in the next few months.
The long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine is anticipated to be available to the public in the first quarter of 2021, according to Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal, chair of the National Strategic Group on COVID-19 and head of the Infectious Diseases Division at Hamad Medical Corporation.
A number of vaccines that are currently undergoing clinical trial are expected to show positive results by November, the expert said, noting they would be rolled out to the public shortly after.
“These vaccines have shown their effectiveness in stimulating the body’s immunity and creating antibodies. They are also proven to be safe in the current stage. The final results of the clinical trials of these vaccines will be known between October-end and mid-December,” Dr Al Khal said in an interview with Al Kass TV.
“We, in Qatar, hope that by the end of this year or during the first three months of next year, the vaccinations we need will be available in Qatar,” he added.
In a separate interview with Qatar TV on Monday, the expert doctor also warned Qatar may witness small waves of COVID-19 until the end of the year, noting, however, that the number of daily infections “will not reach the same level we experienced before”.
Qatar is now past the phase of misinformation and panic, the infectious diseases expert said in the interview, urging the importance of awareness campaigns to debunk false information that have successfully made an impact in Qatar’s attitude to the virus.
Temporary preventive measures
However, he pointed out that strict adherence to preventive measures remains critical in fighting the novel coronavirus and in weakening potential waves.
“Adherence to preventive measures will not be for years, but only until the emergence of a vaccination,” Dr. Al Khal told Qatar TV.
“People must be as cautious as before. More care must be taken during this period, especially among young people, so that they do not transmit the virus to the elderly.”
While the disease poses a threat on the well being of older people, Dr Al Khal expressed his concern over a the potential spread of the virus among people below the age of 20, after noticing a high prevalence of the novel disease within the age group. There is also a concern regarding the spread of infection among Qataris and white-collar workers, particularly those who have their grand-parents and other elderly family members living with them, he said.
The expert’s remarks comes as concerns have been raised over reports of infections at gyms as well as among teachers since the partial reopening of schools.
Dr Al Khal said assured nationwide testing was taking place on all teachers and school staff, adding that the Ministry of Public Health is also expected to conduct random testing on students.
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