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Sunday, 24 January 2021

Egypt’s vaccine program begins today

Egypt’s covid-19 vaccination campaign kicks off today with frontline medical staff working in fever wards, isolation facilities and chest hospitals being the first in line for the jab, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said yesterday in a press briefing (watch, runtime: 4:18). Hospitals have been notified about the vaccine rollout and each health worker will be given two shots administered 21 days apart, said El Sisi’s health advisor, Mohamed Awad Tag El Din.

Doctors can register now to receive the vaccine, which will then be made available to the general public once medical staff have been covered, Health Ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed told Kelma Akhira's Lamees El Hadidi last night (watch, runtime: 11:53). Forty medical centres would receive the vaccinations, starting with the medical teams at the Abu Khalifa isolation hospital in Ismailia Governorate, Health Ministry adviser Noha Assem said on Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 7:32).

It’s not yet clear how long it will take to vaccinate medical staff, and Megahed didn’t provide a timeframe for when the program will roll out to the public. When it does, senior citizens and folks whose medical conditions make them high-risk will be at the head of the line.

Which vaccine will medical personnel be getting? The program will begin with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, Megahed said.

And how much do we have? The government will begin by distributing 50k doses of the Sinopharm jab (enough for 25k people) over the next three weeks, he said. The vaccine, which was proven to be 79% effective against the virus, was approved by Egyptian regulators at the beginning of the month. Egypt received the first shipment of vaccines from the Chinese vaccines in December and there have been reports that another 100k doses will reach our shores soon.

We also have 20 mn doses coming from AstraZeneca: Egypt’s medical procurement agency confirmed yesterday that contract manufacturers Serum Institute and R-Pharm would be providing the shots from India and Russia, respectively. Vaccine production was not impacted by a fire at India’s Serum Institute that killed five people. The first shipment should be arriving this Thursday, Megahed told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib yesterday (watch, runtime: 8:32) without mentioning how many doses we would be receiving.

Overall, Egypt is looking to secure 100 mn doses in the near term. That should be enough to cover 50 mn people, Health Minister Hala Zayed said earlier this month. This include 40 mn shots made by China’s Sinopharm, 40 mn from global vaccine alliance Gavi, and 20 mn from AstraZeneca. Egypt was also said to be in talks to purchase Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines and is looking to secure the rights to manufacture at least one vaccine domestically, most likely Russia’s Sputnik V.

New daily cases continued to fall over the weekend: The Health Ministry reported 680 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 752 on Thursday and 748 on Friday. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 161,143 confirmed cases of covid-19.

The daily death toll is also starting to decline: The ministry reported 49 new deaths yesterday, down from 52 on Friday and 54 the day before. The country’s total death toll is now 8,902.

News of the vaccination campaign kickoff dominated the airwaves last night: El Hekaya (watch, runtime: 8:32 | 2:04), Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 8:29), Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 3:22 | 11:08), Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 7:28) and Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 11:53).

COVID AROUND THE WORLD-

Morocco became the first country in Africa to receive enough doses of a covid-19 vaccine to kick off its immunization program after getting its hand on 2 mn doses of the AstraZeneca jab on Friday, reports Reuters. The vaccination drive is expected to begin this week.

REMINDER- Vaccination campaigns are two steps forward, one-step back affairs. Both AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech announced they can’t meet delivery schedules in Europe. Germany has already suspended its first vaccinations and jabs for health workers in Madrid have stopped. Italy also saw a large drop in daily vaccinations last weekend. Pfizer has also stood up Canada, saying it would not be able to deliver shipments contracted for this week.

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