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Thursday, 11 March 2021

Our Gavi vaccines are en route

Procedures to get Egypt’s first batch of the 8.6 mn doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the WHO’s Gavi / Covax program are underway, Health Minister Hala Zayed said yesterday. The first shipment was originally scheduled to arrive at the beginning of this month, but this appears to have been delayed, with presidential health advisor Mohamed Awad Tag Eldin saying earlier this week the shipment is coming within a few weeks. Citizens and diplomats, foreign residents, and refugees suffering from chronic conditions and / or above the age of 65 are currently being vaccinated.

The first shipment will have 4 mn doses of the vaccine, with the other batch of 4.6 mn doses coming in the next few weeks, cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad told Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa yesterday.

Egypt currently has enough vaccine doses on hand to inoculate all 250k individuals who have registered for the jab, Saad said, and the Gavi shipment will allow the Health Ministry to expand the vaccination program beyond the current eligibility criteria (watch, runtime: 32:30).

** You can register to get a jab here on the Health Ministry’s website (Arabic and English).

Vaccination certificates will be issued starting next week to folks who have taken both of their required doses, Zayed said in a separate statement yesterday. The certificates will be available in Arabic and English via the ministry’s vaccine registration website. Those who carry vaccination certificates are exempt from quarantine requirements in many foreign jurisdictions, so the ministry recommends having your certificate on hand before traveling.

The Health Ministry reported 645 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 622 the day before. The ministry also reported 46 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 11,128. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 188,361 confirmed cases of covid-19.

Rich countries are pushing back against a concerted move by some 80 emerging nations who want to ensure equitable access to vaccines by waiving global patent rules. The United States, United Kingdom, European Union and Switzerland are united in opposition to a push led by India and South Africa to allow vaccine makers around the world to start cranking out jabs by sidestepping patent rights governed by the World Trade Organization. The best Western leaders can do as they over-order vaccines to cover their own people? “We’re going to start off and ensure Americans are taken care of first … If we have a surplus, we’re going to share it with the rest of the world,” US President Joe Biden said yesterday.

But it’s complicated, as both the right-wing Cato Institute and the more left-leaning Conversation both suggest.

Pfizer and BioNTech could have the capacity to produce up to 3 bn doses of their covid-19 vaccine next year, BioNTech’s CEO Ugur Sahin told Bloomberg. The company is already contracted to produce 2 bn doses this year, and an increase in production next year would depend on demand, as well as the resistance of mutant strains to existing vaccines, Sahin said.

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