Molnupiravir is an oral anti-viral drug that is developed by the US-based Merck & Co and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
The drug is believed to hinder the replication of various viruses, including the coronavirus and thus stop symptoms from progressing and help people recover faster from the virus.
The two companies have started Phase 3 of the clinical trials of Molnupiravir early in September with a plan to inoculate hundreds of people in many countries, including the US.
During the coming months of 2021, Egypt is expected to receive some drugs that will “change the rules of the game” of the coronavirus, including Molnupiravir, Megahed said on television.
The trial includes oral drugs that may reduce the spread of the coronavirus among individuals by 80-90 percent, Megahed said, without mentioning the names of the drugs.
Last year, Egypt took part in the clinical trials of China’s Sinopharm before approving it for emergency use in January this year. Thousands of citizens reportedly participated in the trial.
Ending waiting lists
About a million people have registered for the coronavirus vaccination from February to May. They are yet to receive a message from the Ministry of Health with the date and place of the vaccination, Megahed said on Friday.
Minister of Health Hala Zayed has worked on resolving this problem, he added, noting that many people received messages on Friday and the rest will be sent messages on Saturday.
Zayed urged directing citizens to the 157 vaccination centres mainly allocated for travelling purposes so that all the people receive the vaccine within a week, Megahed said.
“Together, we are reassured”
Megahed said the health ministry dispatched buses to six governorates as part of its campaign Ma’an Natmaen ("Together, we are reassured") to register citizens wanting to be inoculated, answer their questions, and relieve their concerns about the vaccine.
More than 16,000 citizens have registered through the campaign so far.
On board the buses are social communication teams, he added.
Through the campaign, people receive the first shot of the vaccine on the same day of registration, he stated.
More than 10,000 citizens received the vaccine in the first two days of the campaign that targeted Cairo, Giza, and Alexandria, Megahed said.
With the launch of the campaign in Daqahliya, Qalioubiya, and Fayoum governorates, around 6,200 citizens registered for vaccination. A number of them were vaccinated, Megahed added.
The health ministry has allocated between five and 10 youth centres in each governorate for vaccination through the campaign, he added.
Egypt is studying the plan to inoculate children between 12-18 years of age, Megahed said.
The spokesman noted that the scheme will depend on certain types of vaccines and prioritise cases with chronic diseases and those who will study abroad.
The list of priorities will be announced later, he added.
On 24 September, Egypt will receive its first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine, containing 612,000 jabs, as part of a total of 1.6 million doses, the spokesman said.
Egypt also received the first batch of 1,000 refrigerators as a gift from UNICEF for Pfizer vaccine storage, Megahed said.
This week, Egypt is expected to receive 3.5-4 million AstraZeneca shots from France, Germany, Greece, and Poland, according to Megahed.
To date, Egypt’s vaccination campaign has included the use of the imported and locally-produced Sinovac vaccine, along with Sputnik V, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Sinopharm vaccines.
So far, 14.9 million citizens have registered to receive the coronavirus vaccine. Moreover, 12 million people were sent messages with the date of vaccination, Megahed said.
About 13.4 million shots were given to citizens, he added.
On Thursday, Egypt was done vaccinating 2.4 million out of 3.4 million employees working at the state’s administrative apparatus, Megahed said, stating that the remaining million employees will receive the vaccine within days.
He also affirmed the ministry’s plan to finish vaccinating those involved in the education sector before 9 October, which marks the beginning of the academic year.
In August, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ordered the charting of an executive plan to vaccinate teachers, teaching staff, workers, employees, and students at universities and institutes against the coronavirus before the beginning of the academic year.
The cabinet announced that vaccination will be mandatory for those aged 18 and above who are involved in the pre-university or university sectors in the country.
Early in September, Presidential Advisor for Health Affairs Awad Tag El-Din said those in the state’s administrative apparatus and the education sector will only be allowed to go to work after taking the vaccine.