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Egypt’s drug authority plays down reports on finding treatment for coronavirus

Mohamed Soliman , Wednesday 15 Apr 2020
FILE PHOTO: A shop assistant checks customers
FILE PHOTO: A shop assistant checks customers' temperature before they walk into the store, due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Cairo, Egypt March 19, 2020. (Reuters)
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The Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA) said it is "premature" to confirm the effectiveness of any drug or vaccine against the coronavirus, Al-Ahram Arabic website reported on Wednesday.

All proposed medicines are still under experimental use in Egypt, the EDA, the health ministry’s medicine regulatory body, added in a statement.

There have been reports over the past week that developing a vaccine against the respiratory illness seems to be around the corner.

The authority added that it is following up on the latest developments in international scientific circles and bodies concerning the clinical trials and lab experiments that have been carried out to test the effectiveness and safety of the proposed drugs to cure patients infected with COVID-19.

The head of the Egyptian National Research Centre (NRC) Mohamed Hashemi had earlier said his team is working on studying the effectiveness and safety of more than 70 drugs in the treatment of coronavirus patients, including the Japanese antiviral Avigan, which he said has shown "positive indicators" against the deadly virus.

Japan decided earlier this month to provide the anti-flu drug, which it approved for use in 2014, for free to 20 countries so it can be used to treat coronavirus patients after it displayed promising results in the treatment of COVID-19.

Egypt received samples of the Avigan over a month ago and more samples were due to arrive this week for clinical trials and lab tests via the NRC, according to the Egyptian higher education and scientific research minister.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Egyptian scientific profession syndicate announced that a unit of Egyptian scientific researchers at the NRC have come close to developing a vaccine for the deadly virus.

El-Sayed El-Meligy, head of the scientific professions syndicate, expected that Egypt could develop a drug for the virus within 10 days.

He said that the research unit “have accomplished about 75 percent of a plan to produce an Egyptian vaccine against the coronavirus” and that it would be ready in two weeks.

On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement that a group of experts is working under its coordination to speed up the development of vaccines against COVID-19.

in March, the WHO said it had set up a solidarity trial to compare the safety and efficacy of four different drugs against COVID-19 and its Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean called on countries in the region and beyond to take part in the “historical trial”.

"Finding a cure for the fast-spreading contagion is not close at hand... not before all [scientific] requirements are met," the WHO's representative in Egypt John Jabbour said at a press briefing in Cairo on Monday.

Egypt has logged 2,350 positive cases and 178 fatalities until Tuesday.  

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