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Sunday, 7 February 2021

China’s catching up in the vax race

China will soon provide Egypt with 300k doses of its Sinopharm covid-19 vaccine, Liao Liqiang, China’s ambassador in Cairo, said on Twitter. That’s enough to protect 150k people from the virus, with each recipient getting two shots 21 days apart.

The doses we’re getting in the next few days should cover most health workers, Health Minister Hala Zayed said at a presser last week (watch, runtime: 1:16). Medical professionals in 22 state-run quarantine hospitals had been vaccinated as of last Wednesday, and there are 363 hospitals to go, she said.

The ministry plans to vaccinate over 410k medical staff by mid-month, at which point the elderly and people with underlying health conditions will begin receiving their jabs (here and here). Egypt kicked off its vaccination program using the Sinopharm jab in late January, after the vaccine was approved by regulators late last year. The company plans to ship a total of 40 mn doses to Egypt, enough for 20 mn people. The inoculation has been found to be 79-86% effective against the virus in studies.

IT’S TIME TO TRUST RUSSIAN and Chinese jabs. That’s the headline across the top of a New York Times opinion piece published just days after a study in the UK’s prestigious medical journal Lancet found that Sputnik V has a 91.6% efficacy rate. We’d roll our sleeves up for Sputnik, locally manufactured or not. In fact, the best news we could imagine is word that the Russian vaccine would be locally manufactured at Vacsera’s facilities here in Cairo.

FACT- The US and UK have used up about 40% of the nearly 120 mn vaccine doses that have so far been administered.

The Health Ministry reported 509 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 540 the day before. The ministry also reported 44 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 9,604. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 169,106 confirmed cases of covid-19.

It will take about seven years to get to a post-covid-19 “normal,” according to Bloomberg estimates based on the business information service’s global vaccine tracker. Health officials have estimated that 70-75% of the global population must be vaccinated in order to effectively stop the spread of covid-19 and reach herd immunity — a process that will take longer in some countries than others. Israel will hit 75% coverage in two months, the highest coverage rate in the world, while setbacks in Canada’s vaccine rollout will struggle to hit that figure before fall (or worse, if the current shortage in vaccination supply continues).

The UK is turning into a petri dish of virulent variants: Three covid-19 strains identified by health researchers in the UK appear to have a mutation called E484Ks, which could make current vaccines less effective and may give them the ability to sidestep immunity conferred by prior infection, the Financial Times reports.

The Oxford / AstraZeneca jab does not prevent “mild to moderate” covid from the South African strain, according to a study to be published today. The news follows word that Johnson & Johnson and Novavax’s entrants were also less effective against the strain.

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