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Sunday, 14 March 2021

Hello, third wave?

The third wave of the pandemic appears to be on our doorstep, with current figures indicating that daily case numbers will peak in April and May, Youm7 reports, citing unnamed sources from the Madbouly government’s covid-19 task force. These expectations are backed up by looking at Italy, whose experience with the pandemic is a month and a half ahead of Egypt’s, committee member Mohamed El Nady tells El Watan.

Ramadan could accelerate the third wave or increase its amplitude, as group iftars and sohours accelerate the spread of the virus, El Nady says. El Hekaya’s Amr Adib also expects the third wave to hit soon, pointing to anecdotal evidence of entire families getting infected (watch, runtime: 0:48).

The contrarian view: There are no “waves” — just an ongoing situation with some peaks and valleys created by weather changes, the development of new variants, and people getting lax with preventive measures, head of the covid-19 task force Hossam Hosny told Hadith Al Kahera’s Khairy Ramadan and Karima Awad (watch, runtime: 16:10).

While we’re talking about getting lax: Khairy and Adib each pointed out that Egyptians have really “canceled” covid and are carrying on with weddings and large parties both in indoor spaces and in outdoor areas that are still jam-packed (watch, runtime: 1:41). Khairy noted that many cafes are again serving shisha despite it still being banned as part of the government’s preventive measures.

Some Egyptians are also still hesitant about getting vaccinated, which presidential health advisor Mohamed Awad Tag ElDin blamed on misinformation from social media that has led some to fear imaginary side effects from a jab (watch, runtime: 0:44). Hosny reassured viewers that all vaccines available in Egypt are those that have been proven safe and effective.

Tourism and hospitality workers are still looking to get pushed up the vaccination program’s priority list, which the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Tourism maintains would be a boon for bringing back international tourism to Egypt, according to Al Shorouk.

The Health Ministry reported 641 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 639 on Friday and another 639 on Thursday. The ministry also reported 42 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 11,256. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 190,280 confirmed cases of covid-19.

Among this weekend’s deaths: Writer and journalist Abbas El-Tarabili and TV anchor Malak Ismail both passed away due to complications related to covid-19, Amr Adib said on Friday (watch, runtime: 3:23).

More important vaccine news: Johnson & Johnson’s covid-19 jab officially earned emergency use approval from the World Health Organization, paving the way for vaccine to be used as part of the Gavi / Covax vaccine roll-out, according to a statement on Friday. It also has the ago-ahead to be used in Europe.

Why it’s important: The one-shot jab doesn’t need special storage conditions — and J&J has shown it’s willing to play nice to get the vaccine onto the street, inking a manufacturing agreement with rival Merck. The WHO authorization means the WHO’s Covax program can distribute the one-shot vaccine, which is 72% effective in preventing mild and moderate cases, 85% effective at preventing severe or critical forms of covid and was 100% effective at preventing covid-19 deaths in the company’s phase-three trial.

Production of the Pfizer / BioNTech jab, meanwhile, could ramp up as BioNTech teams up with 13 manufacturers including Novartis, Merck and Sanofi, in a bid to achieve a lofty production target of 2 bn doses of the covid-19 vaccine this year, the Wall Street Journal reports.

An uptick in blood clotting cases in individuals who received the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine is not directly caused by the jab, a European regualtor said in a statement on Thursday after Denmark announced it is suspending the use of the jab following reports of clotting and one death.

The US will not share doses of its locally manufactured AstraZeneca vaccine with the EU, despite the vaccine remaining unauthorized in the US while European countries where it is approved face shortages, Bloomberg reports. “We’re going to start off making sure Americans are taken care of first, but we’re then going to try to help the rest of the world,” US President Joe Biden said Wednesday.

DONATIONS- UNHCR has delivered a second shipment of personal protective equipment to Egypt, including FFP2 masks, medical gowns, surgical masks, and medical gloves to be used by frontline workers, UNHCR said in a statement yesterday. UNHCR had previously contributed another batch of PPE to protect health workers in April 2020, according to the statement.

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