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Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Sinopharm jab gets ‘okay’

The Health Ministry has okayed the use of Sinopharm’s covid-19 vaccine yesterday, Health Minister Hala Zayed told Al Arabiya. A working group at the Egyptian Meds Authority held its final review meeting yesterday and an official announcement is expected today, she added. Egypt had been receiving shipments of the Sinopharm jab over the past few weeks, after it had been cleared by UAE regulators, but questions arose earlier this week over potential supply chain delays out of China.

This would pave the way for the government to announce a detailed distribution plan next week, Zayed tells the channel. The Health Ministry is setting up an operations room to oversee the rollout of the vaccine, a cabinet statement said last week.

It’s still unclear how many people will be covered in the first phase of the rollout after Cabinet Spokesperson Nader Saad said Sunday night that kinks in Sinopharm’s supply chain would see us get the full 500k initial doses later than expected.

Egypt is still building its war chest of covid vaccines. We’re in in talks with AstraZeneca and Pfizer, Saad said, and hope to get about 20 mn doses of a vaccine from Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, some time in May 2021. Also important: We’re in talks to obtain local manufacturing at Vacsera’s highly regarded facilities. (You can catch more of Saad’s remarks here and here.)

The approval of the jab was all over the airwaves last night, with Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa beating the drum particularly hard (watch, runtime: 3:00).

The current covid wave could peak in the third week of January, a top government scientist told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi last night, adding that Sinopharm is not the only vaccine the government is now studying (watch, runtime: 7:59).

CASE COUNT- This comes as the Health Ministry reported 1,359 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 1,226 the day before. The ministry also reported 61 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 7466. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 133,900 confirmed cases of covid-19.

And the reality on the ground is that these numbers are higher, Zayed said, adding that this happens everywhere and that inaccurate real time data is a reality of the pandemic. December and January typically see the highest number of respiratory disease-related deaths in Egypt due to their prevalence and people staying at home more due to the cold weather, which makes it difficult to log.

WATCH- You can catch Zayed’s full interview here (watch, runtime: 8:09).

NOT A BAD IDEA- Manufacturers want to run their own vaccination programs for workers. The Association of Industrial Investors is petitioning the Madbouly government to allow private companies to import the vaccine on their own dime and vaccinate their employees, the association’s head Sobhy Nasr told the local press yesterday. The proposal reportedly received the endorsement of the Federation for Investors Associations as well.

Saudi Arabia’s vaccine rollout has begun with the first round targeting individuals with obesity and multiple underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. We know two people who got the call yesterday after registering online for the jab.

ALSO YESTERDAY- A law to regulate clinical research was ratified by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The law is being widely touted in the local press as possibly playing a role in expediting the roll out of vaccines by setting up clinical trial testing procedures and frameworks that allow for safe testing on humans.

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