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Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Prisoners + pensioners are next in line for vaccines

Next up on Egypt’s vaccination list: Prisoners + pensioners. The Health Ministry plans to begin vaccinating prisoners in Egypt in the next phase of its inoculation drive, Minister Hala Zayed said during a covid-19 crisis committee meeting yesterday, according to a Cabinet statement. The ministry also plans to set up mobile vaccination centers near pension disbursement sites at the beginning of the month, when pensions are distributed.

This phase of the vaccination campaign will be rolled out in tandem with the ministry’s plan to vaccinate factory workers and other employees in industrial zones, in cooperation with the Federation of Egyptian Industries under an agreement signed yesterday. Sporting clubs will also act as vaccination hubs.

The Health Ministry reported 1,188 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 1,201 the day before. The ministry also reported 61 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 14,388. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 246,909 confirmed cases of covid-19.

EU to support efforts to accelerate vaccine manufacturing in Africa: The EU will push to boost vaccine manufacturing in Africa at a global health summit on Friday where European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is expected to back proposals to set up new production facilities on the continent, the Financial Times reports, quoting unidentified European officials. Support could include direct EU aid and funding from the European Investment Bank and other development agencies, as well as building up a regulatory capacity. Such efforts aim to back the African Union's target to supply 60% of the continent's needs by 2040 compared to the current 1%.

But it’s not on board with the idea of a temporary patent waiver: European leaders last week pushed back on proposals to suspend intellectual property rights on covid vaccines, a step that many in the vaccine-starved global south see as a vital step to ensure equitable access.

Surprise: Covax is running way behind schedule: The Covax scheme designed to provide vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, including Egypt, has delivered less than half of the 170 mn vaccines previously envisioned, Unicef said yesterday. Egypt has so far received 2.55 mn doses of a promised 5 mn dose batch of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine through Covax, out of a 40 mn dose total order placed with the program. Reuters took note of the story.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi’s experimental covid-19 vaccine could enter late-stage trials in the coming weeks, with the pharma giants aiming to get regulatory approval for the jab by the end of the year, according to statements, (here and here).

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