Egypt's government members during a meeting on Wednesday, 16 February 2022 (photo courtesy of the Egyptian cabinet)
The country will also make COVID-19 rapid antigen testing kits available for the public at pharmacies for first time since the outbreak of the pandemic, the acting minister told a cabinet meeting.
In January, the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA) issued an emergency use authorisation for Merck’s COVID-19 drug Molnupiravir, which can cut hospitalisations and deaths by 30 percent among people at high risk of COVID-19.
The EDA has allowed five national companies to manufacture the oral antiviral as a first stage.
Abdel-Ghaffar said the new decisions are part of the ministry's new regulations to combat the coronavirus based on the pandemic’s situation globally and domestically.
This also includes allowing booster shots for people above the age of 65 after three months – instead of six months – of receiving the second shot of the vaccine.
Egypt has already provided public hospitals with Pfizer’s Paxlovid pills and AstraZeneca’s Evusheld coronavirus antibody, the minister said, adding that the drugs have been distributed to oncology units as a first stage and are set to be distributed to dialysis units soon.
The anti-COVID regulations also include the launch of the visit Egypt application, which allows incoming travellers to upload PCR test and vaccination certificates online and assigns them a QR code to be shown at the country's airports in order to pass without waiting in long lines.
Giving a briefing on the pandemic’s situation locally, Abdel-Ghaffar said during the cabinet meeting that data from December and January shows that children and youth had the highest infection rate for the Omicron variant.
The elderly have been the most affected by the Delta variant, he further said.
Both Delta and Omicron variants were detected in Egypt in July and December 2021 respectively, according to the country's heath officials.
Egypt's daily infections and deaths have slightly stabilised over the past week following two months marked with a dramatic increase, during which the country recorded the highest single-day rise in infections with 2,301 cases on 6 February.
Egypt is currently witnessing a drop in positive cases and death in comparison to the past six weeks, Abdel-Ghaffar, citing the results of COVID-19 tests performed – including those for travel purpose – at public and private laboratories.
Egypt has recorded a total of 459,198 coronavirus cases, 23,465 fatalities and 390,489 recoveries since the epidemic started in Egypt in February 2020.
As many as 29.2 Egyptians are fully vaccinated now, the minister added, noting that the country's vaccination centres have around 73.9 million doses of the coronavirus vaccines, which are enough for more than 52 million people.
Egypt plans to vaccinate 70 percent of its eligible population, those who are older than 12 years old, by the second half of 2022.