Egypt launches vaccine campaign, local manufacturing agreement coming in weeks
It’s happening: Vaccine rollout begins + local manufacturing agreement coming in weeks: Our vaccination program officially kicked off yesterday, with medical staff getting the country’s first jabs at over 40 hospitals across Egypt, beginning with the Abu Khalifa hospital in Ismailia. The first doctor to receive the vaccine: Abdel Moneim Selim, who called on the public to take the “safe and effective” vaccine.
The vaccine of choice? The Chinese Sinopharm jab, which was found to be 79% effective against the virus late last year.
Overall, the ministry plans to vaccinate over 410k medical staff and has prepared over 34 vaccine distribution centers nationwide, Health Minister Hala Zayed said at a press conference after watching over the administration of the first vaccination (watch, runtime: 44:13). Medical staff at isolation, chest and fever hospitals are at the head of the list, followed by those with chronic conditions and the elderly.
There’s no timeline yet for a wider rollout to citizens nationwide.
Pregnant women and children in Egypt under 18 — or possibly 16 — will not be getting the jabs, since clinical studies have yet to confirm the vaccines are safe for these individuals, presidential health advisor Mohamed Awad Tag El Din, told Extra News (watch, runtime: 10:50). People with heart and lung diseases or immune disorders as well as cancer patients will be at the head of the list for the vaccine after medical professionals, Tag El Din said.
Members of the public will be able to register for the vaccine on a government website once it goes live, or at their nearest hospital affiliated with the Health Ministry, Zayed said on El Hekaya (watch, runtime: 2:22). The inoculation won’t cost more than EGP 100, with people registered on the Takaful and Karama welfare programs receiving it for free.
People will not be given the first dose unless the second dose is available, she said (watch, runtime: 1:54). The second dose should be given 21 days after the initial inoculation.
But what are the side effects? People may experience a slight rise in temperature and muscle pain, which can be tempered with painkillers, Hossam Hosni, head of the Health Ministry’s ciovid-19 committee, told Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary (watch, runtime: 4:44). Symptoms usually dissipate within 24 hours.
Another three jabs should get regulatory approval soon AstraZeneca, Sputnik V and Sinovac will all soon get the go-ahead for emergency use, Zayed told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi last night (watch, runtime: 17:21). Sinopharm’s vaccine is the only one to have been approved by Egyptian regulators so far.
And how many doses do we have coming in the mail? Egypt will receive 40 mn doses — enough for 20 mn people — courtesy of Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), 40 mn doses from Sinopharm and a further 20 mn from AstraZeneca, Zayed said (watch, runtime: 3:34). The delivery timeline remains unclear because of high global demand for very limited stocks, Zayed suggested.
Egypt expects to sign an agreement with a vaccine producer and begin local manufacturing within weeks, Zayed said. Production would take place at Vacsera facilities, and would cover local supply as well as exports to other African countries. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has also previously raised the possibility of us jointly manufacturing the Sputnik V vaccine here at home.
The Health Ministry reported 674 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 680 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 161,817 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 57 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 8,959.
The vaccine rollout is getting attention in the foreign press, including Reuters and the Associated Press.
And it dominated the coverage on the airwaves last night: Masaa DMC had coverage from the Abu Khalifa Hospital for isolation. (watch, runtime: 11:31), Al Hayah Al Youm covered the presser (watch, runtime: 1:22 | 1:40), Kelma Akira’s Lamees El Hadidi also interviewed the health minister (watch, runtime: 17:21), while Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa phoned the first doctor who received the vaccine in Egypt. (watch, runtime: 9:23).