Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi directed the Tahya Misr (Long Live Egypt) Fund to support the provision of the coronavirus vaccine to the highly-prioritised eligible categories, a statement by the Egyptian presidency said.
Such prioritised groups according to the president's directive, the statement added, are the medical staff, critical and chronic medical cases, coronavirus infected cases as well as the elderly from the most needy categories under the umbrella of social protection programs.
El-Sisi also ordered the establishment of centers to provide the vaccine nationwide and to accommodate citizens wishing to obtain the vaccine when it becomes available, the statement said.
This came during El-Sisi's meeting - that took place on Saturday - with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, Health Minister Hala Zayed, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait, and Presidential Adviser for Health Affairs Mohamed Awad Tag El-Din, to review the state’s efforts in curbing the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the developments in the provision of vaccines.
The president also instructed to obtain the best offers from international companies for the most effective vaccines, in the largest possible quantity and in the fastest possible time.
Egypt received the first batch of the coronavirus vaccine from the Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm via the UAE on 10 December. Sinopharm's vaccine has been approved for mass vaccination in various countries including China, the UAE, and Bahrain.
Egypt has also agreed with other various sources in obtaining multiple different vaccines. It has signed a cooperation protocol with GAVI Alliance to ensure its share of any vaccine manufactured to counter the coronavirus and is expected to recieve from GAVI doses of one type of the coronavirus vaccine in May 2021.
Egypt has reserved doses of a coronavirus vaccine developed by the US Pfizer pharmaceutical corporation, which according to Zayed would cover up to 20 per cent of the country’s needs.
Zayed earlier emphasised that Egypt has also secured doses of a promising British vaccine developed by Oxford University that will meet around 30 per cent of the country’s needs.
In September, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund agreed on supplying 25 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine - which Moscow started using for mass vaccination last week - to Egypt via Pharco, one of Russia’s leading pharmaceutical groups.
Tag El-Din has previously stressed that Egypt would only allow the administration of vaccines that had proven effective and safe in treating the respiratory virus.
During Saturday's meeting, Zayed reviewed the national plan for the distribution of vaccines when they become available. This includes an automated system to follow up registration for receiving the vaccine via a website, leading to tracking the stages of vaccines from distribution to administration.
Moreover, the president directed maintaining the balanced path that the state has taken during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, with the intensification of awareness programs for all segments of society regarding the prevention of infection, the statement added.
Egypt has been recently witnessing a rebound of daily coronavirus cases.
In a move to stem the spread of the coronavirus within the country during the second wave of the pandemic, Egypt will charge an immediate fine of EGP 50 (approximately $3.16) on those not wearing face masks in public starting Sunday.
The same fine will be imposed in metro and railway stations nationwide on people not wearing face masks.
Restaurants and coffee shops not abiding by the coronavirus restrictions, which include a limited occupancy rate of 50 percent, will be closed for a week and fined EGP 4,000 ($252.5).
The cabinet had made warnings of a spike in COVID-19 cases since November, as the general public have been showing a relaxed enforcement of the preventive measures since a drop in confirmed cases had been recorded in the past months.
Officials said they will exercise “zero tolerance” against people who fail to adhere to preventive measures against the pandemic.