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Thursday, 11 February 2021

Big vax orders coming by month’s end + cases on the rise

We’ve passed our first vaccination milestone: All doctors in isolation and fever hospitals have now been vaccinated, Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad told Masaa DMC’s Ramy Radwan yesterday (watch, runtime: 11:45). At the head of the line now are other medical professionals at isolation and fever hospitals, followed by MDs at other facilities.

We’re about two weeks out from receiving two new large-scale deliveries of vaccine. They include the first batch from a 5-8 mn dose order placed through the WHO’s Covax program, the majority of which will likely be the Oxford / AstraZeneca jab. The first big delivery is expected in the second half of February, Saad said. Egypt also expects to receive by the end of the month some 300k doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine. The doses are a gift from China.

We’re not getting all of the doses we need in one go, Saad was careful to say. And frankly, neither is any other country — look at choppy and delayed delivery everywhere from Canada to Europe and the United States.

Negotiations to lock in supplies of Russia’s Sputnik V and the Johnson & Johnson jab are continuing, Saad added (watch, runtime: 11:45). The Health Ministry has said it would like to see a vaccine made here at Vacsera, and Russia has suggested it may make Sputnik V available for license.

The Health Ministry reported 610 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 573 the day before. The ministry also reported 53 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 9,804. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 171,390 confirmed cases of covid-19.

The uptick in cases is not cause for concern, but citizens need to adhere to precautionary measures, Saad stressed to Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa (watch, runtime: 7:09).

VACCINE WATCH- Chinese pharma companies are struggling to produce enough vaccines to meet demand at home and abroad, potentially putting Egypt and other developing countries on long waits for inoculations, according to the Wall Street Journal, which joins the Financial Times in wringing its hands over the notion that Russia and China are engaged in “vaccine diplomacy.”

The Oxford / AstraZeneca jab is now approved for folks over the age of 65, Reuters reports, saying the World Health Organization has given its use in seniors two thumbs up. Meanwhile, South Africa said it will be using the still-unproven Johnson & Johnson jab over the Oxford vaccine after the latter proved reasonably ineffective against the South African variant.

What might the next school semester look like? The cabinet’s covid-19 committee will meet in a few days to assess possible scenarios for the second term of the 2020-2021 academic year in public schools, Youm7 reports, citing unnamed government sources. The government had said earlier this week that it’s preparing the back-to-school plan to discuss with the covid-19 committee ahead of the end of public schools’ mid-year break on 20 February. Potentially on the table: Ring-fencing students during mid-year examinations.

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