Medics in the UAE hailed the approval of the Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, saying it shows how much the government cares for its frontliners.
Less than six weeks since the Phase 3 trials of the inactivated Covid-19 vaccine started in the country, 31,000 volunteers of 125 nationalities have participated. No adverse reactions or complications were reported, authorities said. On Monday, the Ministry of Health and Prevention announced that the vaccine will now be available to frontline workers who are at highest risk of contracting the virus.
Gilbert Jr. Frias, a Filipino nurse in Abu Dhabi who volunteered for the clinical trial, said: “This step shows how the government prioritises us, healthcare workers, and makes all our efforts count. For us frontliners, it is very difficult to don a PPE all the time as we are in close contact with Covid patients. But this vaccine will now add an extra layer of protection for us.”
He added that the shot will relieve their anxiety, said the 33-year-old medic at Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi.
Frias said that since he has seen Covid patients himself, he understands the importance of getting a vaccine, which prompted him to volunteer for the trials.
After taking the jab, he said that apart from the lingering pain of the vaccine shot for a few hours, he did not experience any kind of side effects or symptoms.
“I think my body has adapted well to the vaccine as I did not experience any side effects or symptoms, even mildly. I take flu vaccine shots every year and, while many of my friends experience throat pain or even fever, I have never gotten any such side effects,” Frias said.
Dr Joseph Kurian, a cardiologist at LLH Hospital Abu Dhabi, also took the vaccine in early August for the trial. “I volunteered to help so we could speed up the development of the vaccine that will not only save lives but also help industries recover.”
He said that he did experience some mild side effects, such as bodyache, headache and pain in the area where he got the shot, but it went away after a couple of days.
Dr Kurian said it was a “big achievement” that the third phase of the vaccine trial has been proven safe.
“We are at a stage where we almost got back to normalcy but there is a risk of the virus cases surging again. To do away with that risk, we need this vaccine,” he said.
“While the efficacy of the vaccine may take time but it being proven safe is in itself a big achievement and I am happy that I could be part of it.”