Egypt developing 4 vaccines to treat coronavirus patients

Ahmed Morsy , Thursday 2 Jul 2020

The four locally-developed coronavirus vaccines are in the pre-clinical trial phase, the higher education minister said

A mask-clad local caretaker looks on as visitors arrive at the ancient Temple of Luxor in Egypt
A mask-clad local caretaker looks on as visitors arrive at the ancient Temple of Luxor in Egypt's southern city of Luxor on July 1, 2020 (Photo: AFP)

ِEgypt is working to develop four coronavirus vaccines that have been registered by the World Health Organisation (WHO) among a list of candidate vaccines in global pre-clinical evaluation, Egypt's higher education minister said on Thursday.

The higher education ministry's National Research Centre has completed the pre-clinical trials for one of the four vaccines, Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar said, adding that a report about it is being prepared to be presented to the health ministry's Scientific and Research Ethics Committee for approval for clinical trials.

The four types include DNA plasmid, inactivated-whole virus, influenza A H1N1 vector, and protein subunit vaccines.

The vaccines have not been approved for human clinical trials yet.

The vaccines have been listed by WHO among a list of 129 candidate vaccines in preclinical evaluation worldwide. The Geneva-based body also listed 18 other candidate vaccines in clinical evaluation.

The three remaining vaccines are being monitored to identify the concentration of antibodies produced in experimental animals, the minister said.

The Egyptian team have also identified three natural substances that can inhibit the virus and are preparing samples that will be used in clinical trials. A report about these substances will also be presented to the ethics committee.

Seven months into the Covid-19 pandemic, scientists and drug-makers around the world are frantically testing existing antiviral drugs or scrambling to come up with drugs that may prove effective against the virus to curb its spread until a vaccine is found.

Two of the most talked-about drugs are the Russian-approved Avifavir, and American Remdesivir. Local production of both antiviral medications began in Egypt last week by two local drug-makers, with Remdesivir having already been supplied to many hospitals.

Avifavir, also known by the name Avigan, is based on the Japanese influenza drug Favipiravir which was approved for manufacturing and sale in Japan in 2014 and became a generic drug in 2019.

Remedisvir -- originally developed to treat hepatitis C and was then tested against Ebola virus -- is manufactured by the US Gilead Sciences Inc which helped, according to clinical trials, hospitalised coronavirus patients recover more quickly.

Egypt has so far recorded 69,814 confirmed coronavirus cases since the detection of the first infection in the country in mid-February, including 3,034 fatalities.

The country recorded its highest single-day rise of infections of 1,774 cases on 19 June, with the daily tally swinging between 1,600 and 1,100 in the past week.

Driven by economic concerns, Egypt began on Saturday to ease restrictions in place since March, lifting a nighttime curfew and allowing more businesses to reopen, including restaurants, coffee shops and cinemas. 

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