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Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Egypt becomes member of African Medicines Agency

Egypt has signed up to the African Medicines Agency (AMA) treaty, Health Minister Hala Zayed said yesterday. The AMA aims to unify medical regulations among African countries, and improve access to medicines. The treaty came into force in March of last year, after 15 countries signed up.

This could help facilitate Egyptian vaccine exports to the rest of the continent. Egypt hopes to produce as many as 80 mn doses of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine by the end of the year, and could soon have an agreement in place to locally manufacture the Oxford / AstraZeneca shot.

The Health Ministry reported 110 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 117 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 283,212 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported seven new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 16,403.

IN GLOBAL COVID NEWS-

Some 550 mn Sinovac, Sinopharm doses could be heading to Covax (by this time next year): Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has bought 110 mn vaccines from Sinovac and Sinopharm for delivery between July and October, and has the option of purchasing a further 440 mn shots that would be shipped during 4Q2021 and the first half of 2022, it said in a statement yesterday. The Covax facility will start making the 110 mn jabs available “immediately,” Gavi said, without disclosing which countries can expect to receive shipments.

Is Covax now relying on China to hit its targets? The program is far behind on its target to supply 1.8 bn doses by early next year, shipping only 106 mn since it began the rollout earlier this year. Reuters and Bloomberg have coverage of the story.

The initiative has so far delivered 2.6 mn of the 4.5 mn shots allocated to Egypt, with the final 1.9 mn-dose batch set to arrive this month including a 250k-jab batch of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine as soon as mid-week.

Rising delta cases have countries considering the need for booster shots: Israel, the most vaccinated country in the world against covid, is now offering some citizens third doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine as case rates rise due to the highly-infectious delta variant. For now, only at-risk adults will be offered the booster shot, but policymakers are also considering expanding it to more members of the public. The story got digital ink in the global press: FT I Bloomberg I Reuters.

The US and UK are also debating whether to introduce booster shots: Pfizer is discussing with the US its request for a federal approval of a third booster dose, while Britain is also eyeing a possible booster program in the fall.

But the WHO is calling on rich countries to hand these vaccines to the under-vaccinated global south: World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called on developed countries to hold off on booster shots while poor countries still haven't immunized most of their populations. “Some countries and regions are actually ordering mns of booster doses, before other countries have had supplies to vaccinate their health workers and most vulnerable," he said, calling the gap “hugely uneven and inequitable.” The story got coverage in Reuters and Associated Press.

Saudi Arabia will give Tunisia 1 mn vaccines as the country’s healthcare system struggles to cope with a surge in covid cases. The Saudi Press Agency said yesterday that 190 ventilators, 319 oxygen concentrators and other equipment will be sent.

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