Guide to COVID-19 vaccination in Egypt: What we need to know

Ingy Deif , Sunday 14 Feb 2021

Ahram Online presents the essential answers to questions about COVID-19 vaccination in Egypt

Dr Abdel Menoim Selim and nurse Ahmed Hamdan Zayed, the first two Egyptians to receive Chinese Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, arrive to a news conference inside a tent set up outside the Abou Khalifa hospital in Ismailia, Egypt January 24, 2021. Reuters

To bring this pandemic to an end, a large share of the world needs to be immune to the virus. The safest way to achieve this is with a vaccine.

Based on WHO guidelines and information from the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population, we present a quick map of vaccination in Egypt

What is the difference between the COVID-19 vaccines that Egypt has obtained?

The first main vaccine in Egypt is the Sinopharm vaccine, which uses a virus that is still alive to provoke an immune response. However, the virus has been altered and severely weakened so that it causes few, if any symptoms.

The vaccine’s phase 3 trials are still ongoing, but the efficacy rate is reportedly 79.3 percent, reaching up to 86 percent in some trials. It has a 99 percent efficacy in producing antibodies to the novel virus and 100 percent efficacy in preventing cases from showing moderate or severe symptoms

The vaccine is administered in two doses, three weeks apart, and is kept refrigerated at 2-8 degrees Celsius.

The second main vaccine in the country is AstraZeneca, whose mechanism relies on engineering a harmless virus so that it contains the gene for the SARS-COV-2 spike protein.

Phase 3 trials are completed with an efficacy rate of 62 percent.

It is administered in two doses, 4 weeks apart, and refrigerated at 2-8 degrees Celsius.

Pfizer is another vaccine that the government is in negotiations to bring into the country.

Data has shown that the vaccine starts working soon after the first dose and has an efficacy rate of 95% seven days after the second dose. It requires two injections given 21 days apart.

Finally, there is the Russian Sputnik vaccine that has been submitted to the Ministry of Health’s clinical research file, and it is assumed that they will soon start clinical studies in Egypt.

What are the possible side effects of the vaccination?

Expected side effects of the Sinopharm vaccine is a feeling of pain, redness, stiffness, and itching where the vaccine was taken, along with fever, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, allergy, pain in the muscles and joints, and convulsions.

The Egyptian Health ministry said these side effects generally do not require a certain treatment and usually go away without any medication.

Who are not allowed to take the vaccine?

According to guidelines issued by the WHO, the following categories are not allowed to take the COVID-19 vaccine due to either adverse reactions or insufficient research results:

1-     People with a history of severe allergic reactions to any of the components of the vaccine.

2-     Pregnant or breastfeeding women (insufficient data).

3-     Children under the age of 16 (further studies needed).

4-     Immune-compromised persons (further studies needed).

Will the vaccination end the possibility of contracting COVID-19?

According to the WHO, vaccination efficacy differs from one vaccine to the other and according to the recipient. Thus, for the foreseeable future, caution must be taken into consideration, including continuing to wear masks, physically distancing, avoiding crowds, and applying other health measures.

What are the vaccines already available in Egypt?

The first batch of vaccines that Egypt acquired was China’s Sinopharm in December 2020, and later in January, Egypt received 50,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

On 4 February, the third batch of Sinopharm was received, and Health Minister Hala Zayed announced that the government signed a deal to import another 100 million vaccine doses.

Who will get vaccinated first?

The process of vaccination for citizens will be further revealed in the coming weeks, but the roll-out for medical staff working in chest and fever hospitals and 40 isolation hospitals nationwide has already started, kicking off from Abu Khaleefa hospital in Ismailiya.

The minister stated in a televised segment on 31 January that the Ministry will start vaccinating the elderly along with people with chronic diseases against COVID-19 in mid-February.

In a televised interview, Zayed said the vaccine will be provided to citizens at a low price; LE 100 or less for each of the two doses.

Citizens included in the cash support program Takaful wi Karama, who are unable to purchase the vaccine, will take it for free.

After the end of the first quarter of 2021, the ministry will announce a date for other citizens, who are not among the priority groups, to take the vaccine

Where are the vaccination centres?

The 31 announced centres for receiving the vaccines are as follows:

1-     Nozha Medical Centre (Cairo).

2-     Katamiya Medical Centre (Cairo).

3-     Zohour Centre (Cairo).  

4-     Vacera (Giza).

5-     Mit Okba Health Centre (Giza).

6-     African Centre for Women’s Health (Alexandria).

7-     Somouha Centre for Women’s Health (Alexandria).

8-     Nasser Institute (Qaliobiya).

9-     Kafr Shokr (Qaliobiya).

10-Kiman Fares Medical Centre (Fayoum).

11-Beni Suef Hospital (Beni Suef).

12-Mubarak Family Medicine Unit (Suez).

13-Sammalout Hospital (Minya).

14-Iman General Hospital (Assiut).

15-Heart and Digestive System Centre (Sohag).

16-Al-Ahrar Hospital (Sharqiya).

17-Foqat Educational Hospital (Qena).

18-Luxor Fever Hospital (Luxor).

19-Aswan Fever Hospital (Aswan).

20-Family Health Unit in Ahya (Red Sea).

21-Kharja General hospital (El-Wadi El-Gedid).

22-Kilin Hospital (Kafr El-Sheikh).

23-Cardiac Hospital (Matrouh).

24-Cardiac and Digestive System Hospital (Damietta).

25-Mansoura International Hospital (Daqahliya).

26-Dinshal Educational Hospital (Beheira).

27-Al-Nasr Hospital (Port Said).

28-Al-Mahalla Institute (Gharbiya).

29-Menouf General Hospital (Menoufiya).

30-Ismailiya Hospital (Ismailiya).

31-Sharm El-Sheikh International Hospital (South Sinai).

What are the steps citizens should expect at the vaccination centre?

The ministry outlined the process for a citizen to obtain the vaccine in 8 steps, as follows:

1-     The person shall register to obtain the vaccine through the website or by heading to the vaccination centre.

2-     The citizen heads for assessment at the time and place specified.

3-     Temperature is measured at the facility’s entrance.

4-     Citizen shall go to the electronic registration office to review the data, verify the required documents, and receive the informed consent.

5-     The explanation what the citizen is consenting to and completing the basic information.

6-     Receiving the first dose.

7-     Heading to the same place at the specified date for the second dose and following the same previous steps.

8-     If any minor or moderate symptoms appear that require medical advice, the citizen must go directly to the post-vaccination clinic.

Short link: