Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi announced the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out on Sunday, with priority to the country’s medical staff who are on the frontline battling the outbreak.
In statements to reporters on Saturday, El-Sisi said the immunisation roll-out will then include patients suffering from chronic diseases and elderly citizens.
His statements come as the health ministry announced the start of the vaccination program in Ismailia’s Abu Khalifa hospital on Sunday.
Egypt's target is to vaccinate around 207,000 in medical staff in isolation as well as in chest and fever hospitals nationwide, a source told the Al-Ahram Arabic news website.
The roll-out would see each person receiving two shots administered 21 days apart.
Egypt is looking to boost its supply of coronavirus vaccines to face the outbreak in the overpopulous country which many fear could overwhelm the country’s health system.
Earlier this month, Egypt approved the emergency use of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, with priority of the vaccination program given to medical front-liners, patients suffering from chronic diseases and the elderly.
The first batch of vaccines, which Egypt received in December, was tested by the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA) to ensure its safety for use.
The Egyptian Authority for Unified Procurement, Medical Supply and the Management of Medical Technology (UPA) announced on Saturday it has signed a deal with the R-Pharma and Serum Institute to purchase 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Egypt is also in talks for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Health Minister Hala Zayed said earlier this month, adding that Egypt has also separately contacted the vaccine alliance GAVI to secure 40 million doses of one of the coronavirus vaccines for 20 million citizens.
The first batch of the GAVI vaccine will arrive sometime in the first quarter of 2021, she added, while the other batches will be supplied later throughout the year.
It’s unclear if the country’s immunisation program would be free for all citizens as officials signal that those able to pay for the vaccine can bear its cost separately without the state’s support.
Egypt entered the second wave of the pandemic in the last week of December, recording double the number of infections daily.
However, it has seen a drop in cases in the past days, reporting under 1,000 cases in daily infections.