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Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Consider yourself warned of an impending third wave

A third wave of covid-19 hitting Egypt is not certain, but remains a likely scenario, particularly as more signs emerge of pandemic fatigue and people no longer adhering to precautionary measures, presidential health advisor Mohamed Awad Tag Eldin told Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Mousa last night (watch, runtime: 6:42).

The talking heads are warning viewers of an impending jump in cases: Moussa warned that Ramadan (which is now less than a month away) is expected to drive up the daily case count. He pointed to several European countries, including Italy, that are currently experiencing a third wave to indicate that Egypt could face the same scenario if we aren’t careful (watch, runtime: 5:50). Masaa DMC’s Ramy Radwan, meanwhile, suggested that the rise that was expected to begin in Ramadan has already started, pointing out that the official figures are not a complete reflection of the actual number of cases, but are still on an upwards trajectory (watch, runtime: 7:27).

We should get our hands on a second, 300k-dose shipment of Sinopharm vaccines from China tomorrow, Al Ahram reports, citing an unnamed Health Ministry source. The news comes after late-night talk show queen Lamees El Hadidi said on Sunday that she had learned that the shipment had already arrived and that a sample was being tested.

The shipment will mean we’ve received a total of 700k doses. We’re also expecting our first shipment of 6 mn doses of the AstraZeneca jab from the World Health Organization's Gavi / Covax program at the end of March. The shipment will be the first batch from an 8.6 mn dose order we’re supposed to receive from Gavi this quarter, out of a total 40 mn doses Egypt has signed on to receive in 2021. There’s still no word on when we may receive a shipment of Sputnik or on whether local manufacturing of that vaccine is an option.

The Health Ministry reported 640 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 631 the day before. The ministry also reported 44 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 11,384. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 192,195 confirmed cases of covid-19.

The benefits of the Oxford / AstraZeneca jab “outweigh the risks of the side effects,” European Medicines Agency said at a virtual presser (watch, runtime: 53:12). The European regulator remains “firmly convinced” of its position after a dozen European countries suspended the use of the covid-19 vaccine following reports of rare blood clots in a handful of recipients who received the shots, but there remains “no indication” that the jab is the culprit. The agency is still reviewing the data and will give more updates as they emerge.

The latest countries to join the growing list of countries temporarily suspending the jab: Venezuela and Sweden.

Russia will triple production of its Sputnik V vaccine at Chinese-owned Gland Pharma in India to help meet its target to provide jabs to a tenth of the global population, Bloomberg reports. India is currently the world’s leading vaccine-manufacturing hub, already producing shots for Astrazeneca and a local affiliate as well as a potential Johnson & Johnson agreement in the works.

Sputnik V and two other Russian jabs have proven effective against mutant strains of the virus in trials, Reuters reports, citing an unnamed source at Moscow’s consumer regulator. The news comes after a more contagious covid-19 strain first discovered in South Africa was also detected in Russia. The more transmissible variant, which the WHO says is found in 58 countries, has been raising concerns about vaccine effectiveness and possible reinfections.

Moderna is testing the safety and efficacy of its vaccine on children between six months to 12 years old, kicking off a mid-to-late-stage study on 6.8k kids in the US and Canada, it said in a statement yesterday. Children are still not eligible for vaccination worldwide.

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