Egypt to receive doses of AstraZeneca vaccine within two to three weeks: Health minister

Mohamed Soliman , Monday 11 Jan 2021

The minister added that coronavirus-linked deaths recorded in the pandemic’s second wave are 50 percent less than the first wave’s numbers

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine vial is seen at a NHS mass coronavirus vaccination centre in the Excel Centre in London, Britain January 11, 2021. Reuters

Egypt is expected to receive a shipment of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine within two to three weeks from the Global Vaccine Alliance and Immunisations (GAVI), the Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed said at a press conference in Cairo on Monday.

"GAVI will provide us with 20 percent of our needs. The urgent needs will be delivered during the first quarter [of the year] … the beginning of delivery will start within the last week of January or the first week of February ,or within two or three weeks at most," the minister added.

"Most probably it will be the AstraZeneca vaccine," Zayed commented on the vaccine expected to be supplied by GAVI.

In November, the Egyptian government revealed an agreement with the vaccine alliance, GAVI, to provide Egypt with 20 million doses of any coronavirus vaccines that might get emergency approval from the World Health Organization (WHO).

GAVI, alongside other international organisations, aims to guarantee rapid and fair access to coronavirus vaccines worldwide, mainly for middle-income and least developed countries.

Minister Zayed said, during the briefing, a final contract is expected to be signed with GAVI concerning the vaccine today or tomorrow.

Another contract concerning the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will be signed soon too, the minister said, but when the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA) issues an emergency approval for the vaccine.

"The registration of the vaccine by the EDA is around the corner. They have been working for 10 days," she added.

"Within a few days [or] this week, we will get the approval [of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine] from the EDA and once it happens, we will sign the deal and supply will start by the end of January," the minister added.

Minister Zayed also said that other batches of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine will be delivered to Egypt within days, adding that "we also have to take into account the high demand on the vaccine worldwide."

Egypt's EDA has already approved the emergency use of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine on 2 January, almost three weeks after receiving the first batch of it. The inoculations have not started yet, despite allocating 34 centres nationwide for vaccination.

Speaking on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Zayed said during the event "we asked Pfizer to present their registration file to Egypt."

Stable situation in coronavirus hospitals

Also, the minister said the number of people who succumbed to the coronavirus in the second wave of the pandemic is 50 percent less than the number recorded in the first wave.

Zayed's remarks come one day after Ahmed Al-Mandhari, the WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said Egypt has been among the countries with the highest reported number of coronavirus-related deaths in the Eastern Mediterranean region as of 6 January.

She added that the situation is stable in terms of occupancy rates and oxygen use in the country's 363 hospitals designated for coronavirus cases during the first ten days of January, compared to the last week of December.

During the same period, the average daily infection toll decreased by 21 percent, and the intensive care occupancy decreased by 8 percent, while the recovery rate rose by 5 percent, she noted.

Since the last week of December, more than 1,000 people have been infected every day in Egypt, with a death toll hovering at 40-50 daily.

However, less than 1000 new cases have been reported over the past two days.

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