UAE COVID-19 vaccine: Pfizer booster after Sinopharm jabs will enhance immunity levels

Booster shots can be taken only six months after receiving the second vaccination dose, official says

A man receives a dose of a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Dubai, United Arab Emirates December 28, 2020.

A man receives a dose of a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Dubai, United Arab Emirates December 28, 2020.

REUTERS/Abdel Hadi Ramahi

The UAE Capital’s decision to give options of different Covid-19 booster shots to fully vaccinated community members will enhance their immunity levels and offer further protection against the infection, medical experts said.

A fully vaccinated individual – a person who has received both doses of the Sinopharm vaccine – can now receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as a third shot. This development comes just days after the launch of a booster dose of the Sinopharm vaccine via a walk-in facility.

Community members can voluntarily take the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at any of the Mubadala Health vaccination centres in Abu Dhabi.

A Mubadala Health spokesperson, in a statement to Khaleej Times, noted that a booster shot can be received only after six months.

“Residents are eligible to receive a booster shot six months after receiving a second vaccination dose, according to the current guidelines.”

Dr Mahesh Nethravalkar, head of the department and specialist pulmonologist, NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Ain, said a booster dose is highly recommended after any vaccination to increase the immunity levels.

“An option to take Pfizer, six months after the second dose of Sinopharm, is a welcome move to curb and control the spread of the virus by building immunity. With a booster dose, one can attain higher levels of immunity if taken at the right time. This is because our immune cells need rest before they can respond to additional doses. Hence, taking a booster dose is quite critical and important.”

In the wake of deadly new variants being detected in other parts of the world, Dr Jyoti Upadhyay, internal medicine (specialist), Aster Hospital, Mankhool, noted that several countries are giving a booster dose to effectively avert such a situation.

“The protection offered by vaccines is not life-long and a few variants of the virus demonstrate the ability to evade some antibodies generated by previous infection or vaccination. The protection offered by the Sinopharm shot is believed to last 4 to 6 months.”

Dr Osama Ahmed El Gharib, medical director, Burjeel Specialty Hospital, Sharjah, termed the availability of different booster dose options as a proactive strategy to further contain the pandemic.

“This is a highly proactive step as international studies show that most of the vaccines are highly efficacious up to six months. A booster dose will enhance the antibodies in the body and provide higher resistance against the infection. This would help in bringing down the chance of a surge in Covid-19 cases in the later stage.”

On ‘mixing’ Pfizer after being vaccinated with Sinopharm, Dr Jyoti noted: “Mixing of vaccines can theoretically be done safely, as there is no immunological reason as to why not. It may even help boost the immune response against variants.”

Until Friday, the UAE administered 13,227,344 doses at a distribution rate of 133.74 doses per 100 people, which is the best in the world, followed by Israel. Also, there were 2,062 new cases and two deaths.


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