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Monday, 21 December 2020

Egypt’s vaccination program kicks off next week

Egypt is kicking off its vaccination program around mid-next week, Hossam Hosni, head of the Health Ministry’s covid-19 committee, told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib last night (watch, runtime: 11:20). Healthcare workers are at the head of the line, he said, followed by other groups that the ministry has said in the past include seniors and other high-risk individuals. While Hosni did not explicitly say so, our assumption is that the first jabs will be from Sinopharm. Health Minister Hala Zayed said over the weekend that we’re getting additional shipments of the vaccine this week. Hosni had said just last week that the first doses of the jab will start rolling out in January 2021.

Does that mean the government has officially okayed the vaccine? Not quite. According to Hosni, Egypt is following the UAE’s lead, which cleared Sinopharm’s vaccine for emergency use, while our own scientific committees are still working on their independent studies that will greenlight vaccines for regular (non-emergency) use.

The Health Ministry is setting up an operations room to oversee the rollout of the vaccine, a cabinet statement quotes Zayed as saying. The ministry also said it is in talks with a number of privately owned medical gas manufacturers to ensure an adequate supply of oxygen in Egyptian hospitals as consumption increases during the covid-19 second wave.

Some government offices in Giza will cut in-office staff by 50% and adopt a rotating work schedule in response to the rising infection rates, Giza Governor Ahmed Rashed said in a statement.

Your kid doesn’t have to attend in-person classes for the rest of the semester: The Education Ministry issued a decision yesterday allowing parents to keep their kids at home instead of attending classes in person without it counting against their attendance records, Minister Tarek Shawki told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib. Students who decide to stay at home will be responsible for covering the same material from the curriculum and sit for the same examinations, Shawki stressed. The decision applies to all schools in the country, whether government-run or private (watch, runtime: 2:08).

The Health Ministry reported 664 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 611 the day before — the highest toll since late July. The ministry also reported 29 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 7,098.

Across the pond: The US is rolling out Moderna’s covid-19 vaccine today, a week after it began to dispense the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, reports Reuters. Moderna’s jab is 94.5% effective and was approved for emergency use on Friday.

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