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Thursday, 20 May 2021

The semi-lockdown is on till the end of May — but we can go to the beach as the kids go back to online learning

We’re (mostly) staying in semi-lockdown mode until at least the end of the month after the government’s covid-19 crisis management committee announced yesterday that stores, malls, cafes, and restaurants will continue to close by 9pm. The measures were initially set to expire tomorrow, but unconfirmed press reports had previously suggested that an extension was likely.

The committee decided to reopen public beaches, parks, and gardens, which had initially been shut as part of the lockdown measures rolled out earlier this month ahead of the long Eid El Fitr holiday. Reuters also has the story.

Schools are being forced back online: Classes will be required to shift online at the beginning of June. Students at international schools will only allowed to attend in-person classes until the end of May, according to the statement.

Meanwhile, Thanaweya Amma and university exam proctors will begin receiving vaccines, Health Minister Hala Zayed said at yesterday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, without specifying a date. Prisoners, pensioners and factory workers are also in line for the next phase of the vaccination program.

VACCINE SUPPLY UPDATE- Egypt is getting 20 mn doses of the Sputnik V vaccine before the year is out, Head of the Egyptian Authority for Unified Procurement Bahaa El-Din Zidan said. The vaccines will be delivered in batches over the next several months, according to Zidan. The Health Ministry had already signed an agreement with Russia earlier this month to get 10 mn doses of the jab. It is unclear whether the 20 mn doses include or are in addition to the initial 10 mn. Local manufacturer Minapharm is also set to manufacture 40 mn doses of the vaccine per year, starting later this year.

Johnson & Johnson is sending us 20 mn doses of its jab, according to Zidan. We’ve already placed an order that should see 4 mn doses of J&J delivered in 4Q2021, Health Ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed previously said. Presidential health advisor Mohamed Awad Tag Eldin said last month that these jabs will be received through the African Union, suggesting they could be separate from the 20 mn doses Zidan announced yesterday, which will be supplied directly from the company.

And another 3.4 mn covid vaccines could be in Egypt by the first week of June, according to Zayed. A new 1.9 mn-jab batch of Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccines will be delivered through the Gavi / Covax program during the first week of June, while a shipment of 1 mn doses of China's Sinovac vaccine will arrive by the end of May or during the first week of June, she said. This is in addition to another 500k-dose shipment of Sinopharm, which will be here in the coming days, she added.

One step closer to a homemade Sinovac: Raw materials used to produce the Sinovac vaccine have been shipped and are likely to arrive in Egypt soon, Zayed said. The shipment, which was expected to arrive on 18 May, is enough to locally manufacture 2 mn doses of the vaccine by the end of June, as part of a planned 80 mn to be produced annually under an agreement signed with the company earlier this year.

We now have 376 vaccination centers available cross-country, the Health Minister said, compared to the 208 reported in late April. This includes a vaccination facility at Cairo International Fair that has capacity to inoculate 10k citizens per day.

More than 3.5 mn people have registered for a vaccine in Egypt so far, advisor to the health minister Noha Assem told Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal. The ministry has also been working to develop its automated registration system to speed up the process of allocation vaccination appointments, Assem said (watch, runtime: 8:19).

The Health Ministry reported 1,160 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 1,169 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 249,238 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 57 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 14,498.

Everyone traveling from Egypt to Sudan will be tested on arrival under new measures announced by the Sudanese government designed to curb the spread of the virus, Sudanese state news agency SUNA reports. The government has also banned all flights from India and closed schools and universities for a month.

Oxford / AstraZeneca’s covid-19 vaccine could show promise as a booster shot that helps maintain immunity to the virus and its variants over time, unnamed sources familiar with a soon to be released Oxford University study told the FT. A third dose of the vaccine has been described as “unbelievable” and capable of triggering a “very high antibody response” by people familiar with the study.

Your covid results could soon be in your hands by the time you count to one: A rapid covid-19 testing method that claims to be able to detect positive signs of infection in just one second has been developed in a study conducted by US and Taiwan-based scientists, writes Healthline. The tech is still in the research stage but could potentially be sold by a private company in the future, they said.

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