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Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Vaccine rollout speeds up globally, but we’re not out of the woods yet

The Health Ministry reported 581 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 586 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 183,591 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 42 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 10,778.

Among those testing positive: Health Minister Adviser Aysam Salah, who confirmed yesterday he has contracted the virus.

“Africa? Never heard of it,” say covid researchers: Only 4% of the scientific research conducted on covid-19 is applicable to Africa, despite the continent being home to 17% of the global population, the International Business Times reports. Analysis shows that, of the 2,196 peer-reviewed studies published in leading medical journals, just 96 address African countries, with almost two thirds of these focusing on Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa.

Safety concerns abound as the Chinese covid vaccine sweeps the globe, including Egypt, where some are still apprehensive about the Sinopharm vaccine available here, according to the Associated Press. One nurse who received the jab was uneasy about the lack of publicly available data from the trials, while another official says that vaccines manufactured in the West “are reserved for rich countries.” China has sent us 300k doses of the Sinopharm vaccine as a gift, and is set to send another batch of 300k jabs in the near future.

Speaking of which: Masaa DMC’s Ramy Radwan addressed widespread concerns about the safety of covid-19 vaccines, particularly for the elderly, saying that the probability of a vaccine causing adverse reactions or death is extremely low and significantly lower than the probability of getting seriously ill from contracting the virus (watch, runtime: 4:09).

A total of 237 mn doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab will be delivered to some 142 countries by the end of May through the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Gavi/Covax initiative, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a virtual briefing yesterday. The exact timeline for delivery, made by AstraZeneca and India’s Serum Institute, will be split into separate two-month schedules (February-March and April-May), depending on many factors including national regulatory requirements, availability of supply and fulfillment of other criteria, the statement said. Egypt should be receiving a total of 40 mn doses of the jab this year as part of our agreement with Gavi, Health Minister Hala Zayed has said.

Shipments are ramping up elsewhere in Africa: Nigeria received 3.94 mn doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine yesterday, becoming the third country to receive a shipment from Covax that aims to deliver around 90 mn jabs to Africa in 1Q2021, the Associated Press reports. This was also the largest shipment sent out by Covax so far, after Ghana received a 600k-dose delivery and Ivory Coast got a 504k-dose shipment last week.

Don’t let the vaccines lull you into a false sense of confidence, the World Health Organization warned yesterday, pointing to the “premature” lifting of lockdowns in several countries as more variants of the virus continue to circulate. The number of deaths around the world has crossed the 2.5 mn mark, with nearly 115 mn cases recorded globally, according to Johns Hopkins data.

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