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Sunday, 28 February 2021

Form an orderly line, ladies and gents

Citizens, foreign residents, diplomats, and refugees currently in Egypt who are 65+ years old — or suffering from a chronic illness — can now register for their covid-19 jab on the website the Health Ministry set up for vaccine registrations. The website, which became operational at midnight, asks those signing up for the vaccine to provide personal information, depending on which group they fall into. The website earned coverage on last night’s talk shows from Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary (watch, runtime: 4:13) and Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal (watch, runtime: 14:40).

The ministry reported 588 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 601 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 181,829 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 49 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 10,639.

Ramadan-evening Taraweeh prayers will be allowed at the same “major mosques” that were previously selected for the resumption of Friday prayers, with worshippers required to adhere to strict safety measures to contain the spread of covid-19 infections, according to a Cabinet statement. Still not allowed during the Holy Month: Charity iftar tables (Ma’edat Rahman) and solitary retreats in mosques (itikaf). All other mosque facilities will also remain closed to the public until further notice, the statement said.

Moderna develops South Africa covid vaccine: US vaccine maker Moderna is trialing a new jab designed to protect people from the ultra virulent strain of covid-19 discovered in South Africa last year, the company said in a statement. The Phase 1 clinical trial will be funded and conducted by the National Institutes of Health.

Calls for pharma companies to waive some intellectual property rights to covid-19 vaccines just gained second wind from the African Union, with an eye to enable more equitable access for developing nations, Reuters reports. The proposal, which initially came from South Africa and India — both of which are manufacturing jabs — at the World Trade Organization last year, wasn’t met with open arms from developed countries.

A skeptical public and logistical difficulties are leading EU countries’ stockpiles of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab to grow without being used, according to the Financial Times. Part of the problem is that there is “an acceptance problem with the AstraZeneca vaccine at the moment, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper. Merkel’s remarks come only weeks after the EU’s acrimonious battle with AstraZeneca over its delayed deliveries.

That makes the possibility of European countries demanding a vaccine passport all the more ironic. The proposal to introduce vaccine “passports” — aka certificates of vaccination — to allow people to travel in the EU could materialize within three months, after leaders broadly agreed at a virtual summit on Thursday that introducing certificates are necessary, Deutsche Welle reports. States have not yet set a framework for how they would be used, German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The controversial proposal received pushback from some states that fear it would lead to discrimination, while Southern European states whose economies are highly dependent on tourism have been more keen to implement the scheme.

The GCC is also mulling a similar policy to facilitate movement between Gulf countries, according to Khaleej Times.

Correction: 28 February 2021. A previous version of this article  stated that citizens, foreign residents, diplomats, and refugees over 40 years old can now register for a covid-19 vaccine.

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