Qatar aims to vaccinate up to 90% of the eligible population against Covid-19 before the end of this year, disclosed a top official Wednesday.
Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, chair of the National Health Strategic Group on Covid-19 and head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation, was addressing a virtual panel discussion at the Education City Speaker Series, held in collaboration with the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH).
Quarantine exemption period
to be extended
The period of exemption from quarantine for those who have completed both doses of Covid-19 vaccine will be extended as and when more data is available.
This was announced by Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, chair of the National Health Strategic Group on Covid-19 and head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation.
He was addressing a virtual panel discussion at the Education City Speaker Series, held in collaboration with the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH).
“The three months exemption from quarantine was made from the available data about the duration of protective level of antibodies in the blood following the second dose. But there is more available information that the duration is probably longer. It could be a year or even longer,” he pointed out.
“What we have done is a starting point of quarantine exemption for three months and we are reviewing the literature and the data as it emerges regularly on a daily and weekly basis. And we are ready to extend it to six months as soon as there is information to do that. Then we will review the data and probably extend the validity. The present one is only the starting point,” he highlighted.
The event titled ‘An Injection of Hope: Do Vaccines Mean an End to the Pandemic Is in Sight?’ featured healthcare experts and practitioners to discuss vaccine development and questions surrounding the new variants of Covid-19, among other issues.
He explained that the vaccination campaign is implemented in adherence to effective public health measures, such as screening and isolating people suspected to have or exposed to Covid-19.
“We have taken very effective steps to combat Covid-19. So we approached pharmaceutical companies that were in advanced stages of clinical trials for vaccines. We are also a member of the Covax facility where we get a percentage of our vaccines from.” continued, Dr al-Khal. Covax facility was formed last year to ensure fair and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines for every country.
“One of the challenges that we had to face with the rolling out of the vaccine campaign is the global shortage of vaccine as in the case of other countries. Current production of vaccines is a tiny fraction of what the world needs. Another issue is if we need to do it annually we have to work on a strategy for our future supplies,” explained the official.
According to Dr al-Khal, 27 health centres in the country provide vaccine to people seven days a week from 7am to 11pm. “In addition we recently opened the vaccination centre at Qatar National Convention Centre, which can deliver 8,000 doses a day. This has boosted our ability. We also trained nurses at different ministries and entities such as Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defence, oil and gas sector, Qatar Airways to administer vaccine. Now they are vaccinating their frontline workers at their own facilities,” he described.
“Today the Ministry of Health has started an initiative for the elderly. For the elderly who cannot make it to the health centres, vaccine will be provided at their homes as well as to their close family members,” he told.
“One of the major challenges that we faced initially was the widespread misinformation about vaccine safety. This was circulated widely through the social media and made a significant portion of people reluctant to take the vaccine. We established a group to spread evidence-based information and community figures to get the message across,” added, Dr al-Khal.