China picks Egypt as future hub to manufacture coronavirus vaccine in Africa

Ahram Online , Monday 20 Jul 2020

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken April 10, 2020 (Reuters)

Egypt has been selected by China to serve as a future hub for manufacturing a coronavirus vaccine in Africa once it is developed by Beijing, the Egyptian health ministry said on Monday.

Egyptian health minister Hala Zayed met with Chinese Ambassador Liao Liqiang to discuss Egypt’s participation in the testing of coronavirus vaccines in cooperation with a Chinese firm. 

The meeting discussed means of cooperation between the health ministry’s national vaccination centre, VACSERA, and a Chinese company carrying out trials to develop a vaccine to pave the way for manufacturing it in Egypt once it is proven effective, the ministry said in a statement.

The quality and capacity of production lines in Egypt will be assessed to begin manufacturing the vaccine once it is developed, it added.

Earlier this month, Egypt said it was working on developing four coronavirus vaccines that have been registered by the World Health Organisation (WHO) among a list of candidate vaccines in global pre-clinical evaluation.

The four vaccines, which have not yet been approved for human clinical trials, include DNA plasmid, inactivated-whole virus, influenza A H1N1 vector, and protein subunit vaccines.

No coronavirus vaccine has yet been developed, and many countries are conducting human trials of several existing antiviral drugs to test their efficacy.

Two of the most talked-about drugs are the Russian-approved Avifavir, and the American Remdesivir. Local production of both antiviral medications began in Egypt in June 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 been seeing a significant drop in detected coronavirus cases, registering daily cases lower than 1,000 in the past few days.

Egypt recorded 603 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the total infection tally to 87,775, including 4,302 fatalities since the outbreak of the virus in mid-February.

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