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Tuesday, 9 March 2021

A future without masks is in sight

Private companies will not be allowed to independently provide covid-19 vaccines to the public, cabinet said in a statement yesterday, refuting rumors that suggested otherwise. Vaccines will only be available via the Health Ministry’s website and cannot be purchased from private companies, the statement said.

That doesn’t mean the private sector can’t import them: Prime Speed Medical last month became the first company to get the go-ahead to import vaccines. It has reportedly agreed to purchase 10 mn doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. The company will import the vaccines — which will be distributed by the Health Ministry — on behalf of the Egyptian Authority for Unified Procurement, Speed Medical said in an EGX disclosure (pdf) yesterday. It was careful to note that its import of Sputnik doesn’t mean that it will be selling and administering the jab to the general public.

But some MPs think private companies should be handed a role in distribution: Ayman Aboul Ela, member of the House Human Rights Committee, has submitted a proposal to the Health Ministry suggesting that it allow companies to help distribute the vaccine to speed up the rollout, Youm7 reports.

The Health Ministry reported 591 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 581 the day before. The ministry also reported 43 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 11,038. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 187,094 confirmed cases of covid-19.

The Health Ministry wants you to resist the urge to gather all your friends and family members over fitar or sohour this Ramadan to avoid spreading covid-19 during the Holy Month, Al Hayah Al Youm’s Mohamed Sherdy noted (watch, runtime: 1:31).

Poorer countries are unlikely to have vaccinated the majority of their populations before 2023, executives at Swiss-German freight company Kuehne+Nagel, which is distributing covid-19 vaccines for the WHO’s Covax scheme, told the Financial Times. Even in wealthier nations, the estimated waiting time for healthy adults to receive a first dose is around 15 months, said Detlef Trefzger, CEO of the company. Adar Poonawalla, who is overseeing the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing operation as the head of India’s Serum Institute, has also said that vaccines would not be available for everyone in the world before the end of 2024 at the earliest.

Private gatherings — sans mask — are now allowed for fully vaccinated individuals in the US, as per new guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC isn’t quite recommending a full return to life as it was in 2019, but says that those who are two weeks past their second dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines or their single dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s jab can begin easing some precautionary measures.

WHO: Vaccine passports are not a good idea. Given the inadequate global vaccine supply, there are “real practical and ethical considerations” that could lead “inequity and unfairness [to] be further branded into the system” with the introduction of vaccination passports, Michael Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies chief said at a presser yesterday (watch, runtime 60:15). The EU is currently mulling how to introduce these passports, after the bloc’s leaders agreed last month that the scheme was “necessary.”

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