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Thursday, 3 December 2020

We could face Lockdown 2.0 as cases top 400 for the first time since July

Cabinet may be forced to reinstate a partial lockdown should the current upswing in cases continue, cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad said last night. “Any partial closure has a cost and a price and that is what we are trying to avoid, but at the end, the Crisis Committee are the ones who will take a decision,” he told Yahduth Fi Misr host Sherif Amer watch, runtime: 2:26).

Daily covid cases topped 400 for the first time since July yesterday: The Health Ministry reported 421 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 392 the day before, bringing the total number of cases to 116,724. There has also been an increase in the number of serious cases of covid, Saad said, saying intensive care beds are now at 52% occupancy and that 31% of the country’s ventilators are now in use.

Highest death toll since August: The ministry reported 28 new deaths, the highest daily toll since 1 August and bringing the country’s total death toll to 6,694.

And may we have 25 weeks before we get hold of a vaccine: The first shipments of vaccines deployed through the World Health Organization’s Covax program will take place on 20-21 May 2021, Saad told Extra News’ Lama Gibril yesterday (watch, runtime: 11:39). Covax aims to distribute covid jabs to lower-income countries for no charge,

And what are we getting? Saad told Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa that the government will receive 20 mn doses of a two-shot vaccine under Covax (watch, runtime: 31:48). It remains unclear which vaccine would be handed to Egypt through the initiative, since none of the participating companies have had their jabs cleared by regulators.We’re also getting 25 mn shots of Russia’s Sputnik V, enough to vaccinate another 12.5 mn people because it’s a two-jab per-person vaccine.

In any case, since only 22.5 mn Egyptians will be vaccinated through Covax + Sputnik, we’re going to need to purchase more. Saad told Gibril that the government is looking to grab another 10 mn shots and at this stage is likely to go with AstraZeneca over Pfizer.

UK citizens are in a much better position right now after regulators signed off on the Pfizer / BioNTech vax, allowing the 95% effective inoculation to be distributed to frontline health workers and the vulnerable in the coming days, the BBC reports. The government has ordered 40 mn doses of the two-shot vaccine — enough for almost a third of the population — and 800k are already on their way to the country.

The US might be quick to follow suit, with the FDA set to meet on 10 December to discuss potential emergency authorization of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine. And the EU, which criticized the hurried approach taken by UK regulators, could approve it later this month.

Meanwhile in Russia, Putin has ordered mass vaccination via Sputnik V to begin next week. Voluntary and free-of-charge, the campaign will see some 2 mn shots of the 91.4% effective shot administered, with doctors and teachers first in line to receive it, the Associated Press reports.

The UK’s vax approval is getting coverage everywhere, from Reuters to the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.

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