Egypt has approved the emergency use of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine on Saturday, as the country looks to boost its supply of coronavirus vaccines amid a spike in daily infections in the overpopulous country.
In exclusive statements to MBC Masr’s El-Hekaya programme, Health Minister Hala Zayed said that the ministry received the approval of the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA) for the emergency use of the Chinese vaccine.
The first batch of vaccines, which Egypt received last month, was tested by the EDA to ensure its safety for use, Zayed said.
She added that the next batch of the Chinese vaccine will arrive in the coming days.
Zayed revealed that AstraZeneca/Oxford has submitted a request for the use of its vaccine in Egypt through the country’s vaccine maker Vacsera, with negotiations over the vaccine nearly finalised.
The first batch of their vaccine should be received in the third or fourth week of January.
Egypt is also negotiating for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, she said, adding that Egypt has also separately contracted with the vaccine alliance, GAVI, to secure 40 million doses of one of the coronavirus vaccines for 20 million citizens.
The first batch of the GAVI vaccine will arrive sometime in the first quarter of 2021, she added, while the other batches will be supplied later throughout the year.
Last month, Egypt’s Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said the ministry signed contracts to purchase 20 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and 30 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
No further details were provided on the deals at the time.
Zayed said that work is underway to determine when the vaccination campaign would begin in selected affiliated centers nationwide, adding that priority would be given to medical front-liners, patients suffering from chronic diseases, and the elderly.
She expected the campaign to begin “within the second and third week of January.”
Zayed said it was important to secure vaccines for those who fall under the priority criteria for vaccinations, adding that the state’s Tahya Masr fund will bear the cost of all vaccines.
However, she said that those able to pay for the vaccine can bear its cost separately without the state’s support, with details on the mechanism for payment to be revealed later.
Egypt entered the second wave of the pandemic in the last week of December, recording double the number of infections daily.
The country has so far registered 140,878 cases of COVID-19 since mid-February, including 7,741 fatalities.
Egypt has warned of a spike in COVID-19 cases since November, as the general public has been showing a relaxed enforcement of the preventive measures since a drop in confirmed cases has 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.