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Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Sinovac given emergency approval + health minister to face questions in parliament over handling of latest outbreak

Sinovac cleared for use in Egypt: Health regulators have granted approval to China’s Sinovac vaccine for emergency use, the authority said in a statement last night. This is the fourth covid vaccine approved by the EDA following Sinopharm, Oxford / AstraZeneca, and Russia’s Sputnik V.

Sinovac’s efficacy rate is … fine: Sinovac has an efficacy rate of 50.4% in preventing infections — well below the 92% efficacy rate boasted by Sputnik V, the 79% reported by Sinopharm, and 76% by AstraZeneca. Reuters also covered the story.

Egypt is preparing to start local production of the vaccine: Egypt plans to manufacture 40-60 mn doses of the Chinese vaccine each year after state-owned vaccine maker Vacsera signed an agreement with the company last week. An initial batch of 5 mn doses will be produced over the next two months. And local pharma company Minapharm will produce some 40 mn doses of Sputnik each year, with production scheduled to start in November.

State-owned Vacsera will be able to produce up to 100 mn doses a year following the opening of its new plant in Sixth of October City, El Watan quoted Health Minister Hala Zayed during a presser. The new facility will have a production capacity of 40-60 mn doses.

Zayed is being called to parliament to explain the situation in Sohag: The House Health Committee has summoned the health minister to deliver a statement in light of the deteriorating situation in Sohag, Youm7 reports. Committee chair Ashraf Hatim said the minister will face questions on the rising volume of cases nationwide, which he described as a “real problem,” while other committee members voiced concerns about a lack of supplies in hospitals in Sohag.

And the Doctors’ Syndicate isn’t happy as the death toll mounts: Sixty-one medical professionals have died from covid-19 since the beginning of April, roughly double the monthly figure seen in past months, the Doctors Syndicate said in a statement yesterday. This brings the total to almost 500. The syndicate criticized the health minister’s statement this week which only mentioned the 115 doctors working in isolation hospitals that have died, rather than the total figure. It also urged the ministry to either provide vaccines to all doctors or ensure that they are provided with equipment to protect them from the virus.

Cases + deaths rose again yesterday: The Health Ministry reported 991 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 953 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 223,514 confirmed cases of covid-19. Cases have now risen continuously for more than three weeks, and are up more than 40% from the end of last month. The ministry also reported 58 new deaths, the highest daily figure since mid-February. The country’s total death toll is now 13,107.

Our covid resilience is improving, according to Bloomberg: Egypt is now ranked 38 on Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience ranking after rising 10 spots in April, up from the 47th spot in January. The improvement in our resilience enduring covid-19 comes as the country’s vaccine rollout picks up steam, with 680k doses of the Sinopharm vaccine and the first 854k-dose batch of Oxford / AstraZeneca jabs from the Gavi / Covax program landing in Egypt. Some 5 mn doses of China’s Sinovac vaccine will also be locally produced within two months at the factories of state-owned Vacsera, before bringing the total to 40-60 mn per year. Bloomberg’s ranking is “a measure of the best places to be in the coronavirus era” by looking at a country’s metrics such as monthly cases and fatality rates, percentage of the population covered by vaccine supply agreements, the strength of its healthcare system, and GDP growth forecasts.

At the top: Singapore, New Zealand and Australia are still leading the ranking.

At the bottom: Poland and Brazil are the lowest-ranked countries on the list.


The US is going to stop hoarding vaccines: The US will send up to 60 mn doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries as “they become available,” Andy Slavitt, a senior adviser to President Joe Biden, said in a tweet yesterday. The US is on course to acquire 300 mn excess doses by July, leading to growing calls for it to share its stockpile with countries still in the throes of the pandemic.

EU sues Astrazeneca over missed deliveries: The EU is suing AstraZeneca for allegedly failing to deliver the contracted number of doses, the BBC reports. The EU Commission signed up to purchase 300 mn doses last August, but the company only shipped 30 mn of an agreed 80 mn in the first quarter and is on course to provide only 70 mn of 180 mn doses this quarter. AstraZeneca said earlier this year that production problems meant it would have to reduce its supplies, and said yesterday that the lawsuit was "without merit."

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