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Sunday, 7 March 2021

Roll up yer sleeve: The vaccine rollout is underway

The first day of the covid-19 vaccine rollout to the wider public saw 1,141 individuals get a jab, the Health Ministry said in a statement on Thursday. Both the Sinopharm and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are being deployed. Sinopharm is taken in two jabs administered 21 days apart, while folks getting the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine take a second dose after a three-month period.

The Health Ministry reported 588 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up 579 the day before. The ministry also reported 45 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 10,916. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 185,334 confirmed cases of covid-19.

Tourism companies want to buy 200k doses of covid-19 vaccines for Egyptians going to Hajj in a bid to preserve a significant source of business for the industry. The Egyptian Tourism Federation’s tour operators division are lobbying the health, interior, and foreign ministries and the covid-19 crisis committee to make the jabs available for purchase, federation board member Wahid Assem said, according to Al Shorouk. The proposal would see the companies covering the costs of the jabs, some of which would be distributed to airports employees.

More affordable PCR tests for outbound travelers, please: The tourism industry also wants the Health Ministry to offer PCR tests to travelers leaving Egypt on international flights at the same USD 30 fixed rate offered to inbound tourists, according to Al Shorouk.

Morocco has suspended flights to Egypt and Algeria until 21 March due to covid concerns, the Moroccan Airports Authority said in a statement on Friday. EgyptAir confirmed that it has stopped flights to Morocco “until further notice” starting Friday.

Kuwait is extending its travel ban for non-citizens until further notice and has introduced a one-month nighttime curfew to battle the pandemic as the country reported a new record daily case count, its cabinet said on Thursday. The government on 22 February closed land and sea borders until 20 March.

It’s a different story in Saudi Arabia, where the government is easing restrictions. The kingdom is reopening diners and cafes, malls, gyms, and in-door leisure facilities, state-owned Saudi Press Agency reported. A travel ban and border closure remains in effect until 17 May.

Eva Pharma will begin distributing Japanese antiviral medication Avipiravir to pharmacies, the pharma company said in a statement.

WATCH THIS SPACE- Anti-covid-19 pill in the making? A mid-stage study on an experimental antiviral med shows the pill is able to “significantly reduce” the infectious virus after five days of treatment, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing one of the med’s developers. The Tamiflu-like capsule is still under study to prove its efficacy in treating severe covid-19 cases, but could be a key stepping stone to cutting down on hospitalizations.

The World Health Organization has warned of possible third and fourth waves of covid-19, and urged governments to guard against complacency amid the global vaccine rollout, WHO official Mike Ryan said at a press briefing on Friday, according to Reuters.

Landmark for Covax: Covax has so far delivered over 20 mn doses to 20 countries and another 14.4 mn doses to be delivered to 31 nations this week, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesushe said at a briefing on Friday.

The EU is turning to the US to ramp up doses of AstraZeneca’s covid-19 jab as its vaccine rollout program continues to stumble, urging Washington to ensure the flow of shipments of essential vaccine components needed in European production, the Financial Times reports, citing the European Commission. The EU also adopted a new export control mechanism to ensure manufacturers respect their contracts, allowing Italy to bar exports of the vaccine destined for New Zealand after AstraZeneca failed to deliver the 205k-dose shipment it promised Europe on time, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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