FILE: A woman holding vials labelled "coronavirus vaccine" (Reuters)
Egypt is in talks with Sinovac Biotech to manufacture the Chinese company’s coronavirus vaccine, health minister Hala Zayed told Egypt’s DMC satellite channel on Friday.
Zayed said that Egypt wants to meet the demand of Egyptians and other African nations.
After Sinova's auditing, financial negotiations are underway over the expenses of obtaining the production licence, Zayed added.
A production line was established in the headquarters of the Egyptian Holding Company for Biological Products and Vaccines (VACSERA), Zayed said, adding that the World Health Organisation has presented some recommendations for Egypt to meet.
She affirmed that the production line is now ready, the staff are trained, and legal permissions have been issued.
This comes a day after Egypt had received the first batch of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm at Cairo Airport, which was flown from the UAE.
On Friday, Zayed said the Sinopharm vaccine will be optional and free of charge for all Egyptians as “it is the state’s responsibility to provide the vaccine and protect society.”
Egyptians willing to take the vaccine can register through an official website the ministry will launch next week, Zayed noted.
Egypt has been carrying out phase three of the clinical trials of the Sinopharm vaccine. Zayed said the vaccine’s safety and efficacy were tested on the short-term, adding that she does not expect the vaccine to have a long-term effect.
Zayed said Egypt has secured cold storage units that can accommodate up to 110 million doses of the vaccine.
She reiterated that priority will be given to medical staff working in isolation hospitals, as well as fever and chest hospitals.
Around 60,000 patients suffering from kidney failure and cancer will be prioritised, she said, in addition to people suffering from chronic diseases and people above 60 years of age.
Zayed was administered the Chinese vaccine in September, she said on Friday.
She reported a fever of 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) after she took the first shot, but had only a slight rise in temperature after the second shot.
She added that she took an antibody test 45 days after the first dose and found her body maintained the required antibodies. Similar tests are carried out over separate periods to test how long antibodies will last, she noted.
On 4 December, Zayed and finance minister Mohamed Maait signed a deal with the Geneva-based Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) to secure 20 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine for Egypt, adding that it will likely be the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
The health ministry earlier explained that the Sinopharm vaccine has proven 86 percent effective against coronavirus, 99 percent effective in producing antibodies, and 100 percent effective in preventing cases suffering from moderate or severe symptoms.
The ministry affirmed that Egypt will receive more batches of the coronavirus vaccine.