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Wednesday, 19 May 2021

We could see less AstraZeneca in Egypt just as fresh questions arise about Chinese vaccines

Vaccine producer the Serum Institute of India (SII) is planning to extend its suspension on exporting the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine until the end of the year, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said yesterday, according to the Financial Times. The extension is meant to allow SII to better prioritize delivering vaccines to India, which is buckling under the weight of a third wave of covid-19. SII probably won’t resume “sizable exports” before October at the earliest, Reuters reports. Covax primarily depends on the AstraZeneca jabs SII manufactures.

What does this mean for Egypt? The fate of the rest of Egypt’s vaccine doses from the Gavi / Covax scheme is currently unclear. We received a 1.7 mn-dose shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Covax earlier this month, bringing the total number of jabs Egypt has received from the program to around 2.55 mn doses.

We’re also expecting to receive another batch of 1.7 mn doses before the end of May, meaning we could have a clearer idea of how Egypt’s vaccine supply will be affected in the next couple of weeks. The uncertainty comes a few weeks before state-owned Vacsera is expected to churn out some 2 mn doses of China’s Sinovac vaccine, and suggests that plans to domestically produce other jabs (including Sputnik) will become all the more important.

That comes as new questions are being asked about the efficacy of China’s high-profile Sinopharm jab. The UAE will begin offering a third “supportive” dose of the Sinopharm vaccine — which has so far been administered as a two-shot jab — to individuals who received the second dose of the vaccine at least six months ago, the UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority said yesterday. Sinopharm had been testing earlier this year whether a third booster shot would help increase the vaccine’s effectiveness. It is widely expected that annual boosters of covid-19 vaccines will be the norm to protect against mutations and variants.

US pledges to boost vaccine exports: President Joe Biden has promised to share at least 80 mn doses of covid-19 vaccines with other countries by the end of June, the Wall Street Journal reports. The government has faced international backlash over export restrictions that prioritized the vaccination of US citizens over other countries.

The Health Ministry reported 1,169 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 1,188 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 248,078 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 53 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 14,441.

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