Egypt applied to obtain COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, says Health Minister

Lamis ElSharqawy, Tuesday 8 Dec 2020

Health Minister Hala Zayed assures that all necessary measures have been considered to confront the second wave of COVID-19

Hala Zayed
Egypt Health Minister Hala Zayed (Al-Ahram)

Egypt has submitted an application form to obtain COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, a scheme led by the GAVI alliance designed to secure rapid and fair global access to COVID-19 vaccines, the country's Health Minister Hala Zayed said at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Zayed said an "extended" meeting is set to be held with GAVI, a statement released by the cabinet following the meeting said without providing further details.

Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly has delegated Zayed and Finance Minister Mohamed Maait to take the necessary measures to contract GAVI to provide the country with a 20 million-dose batch of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The amount would cover up to 20 percent of the country's needs, with priority given to medical staff and those most vulnerable to the disease, according to previous remarks by Zayed.

During Tuesday's meeting, Zayed reviewed the measures taken by the ministry to confront the much-feared second wave of the pandemic, which included upgrading the infrastructure of 44 fever and chest hospitals, supplying 100 oxygen tanks, and developing gas networks.

Hospitals’ capacity was also increased by 7500 beds, 1500 intensive care beds, 325 ventilators, and 17 CT-scan machines, the statement added.

Speaking on the occupancy rates at isolation hospitals, Minister Zayed said 76 percent of the internal beds are vacant, while the other 24 percent are occupied; adding that up to 56 percent of intensive care beds are occupied, and 70 percent of the ventilators are vacant, while 30 percent are occupied.

Zayed also cited the speech of the World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during the 31st Special Session of the UN’s General Assembly in which he identified 4 main factors to end the pandemic: investing in vaccines, preparedness to prevent the next wave of the pandemic, investing in cooperation with all parties to provide future protection, and cooperating to preserve the future.

Zayed pointed out that the world spends $7.5 trillion on health every year, which is nearly 10 percent of global GDP, however, most of this spending is made by affluent countries, and directed disproportionately to treating diseases rather than promoting and protecting health.

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