A member of the Egyptian medical staff receives his first dose of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine (Photo courtesy of Egypt's Health Ministry)
Egypt’s Ministry of Health said in a statement on Friday that 1,315 of the medical staff nationwide have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine at 22 isolation and fever hospitals since last Monday and up until Thursday.
Egypt started the vaccination process earlier last week using the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, which is administered in two doses 21 days apart, beginning with medical teams as priority.
The total of medical teams targeted to be vaccinated in chest, fever hospitals is 207,000 individuals, those including: doctors, nurses, administrators, and workers.
Egypt received the first batch of the Chinese vaccine - 50,000 doses - in December from the UAE. The ministry approved the vaccine in early January and is expecting a second batch.
The Chinese vaccine is one of three vaccines planned for use in inoculation by the country in innoculating citizens along with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and the Russian-made Sputnik vaccine.
Egypt is set to receive a first shipment of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday.
Minister of Health Hala Zayed pointed out on Monday that all three vaccines are still being registered, and that any batches that arrive will have to undergo four standardized tests under the direct supervision of the Egyptian Drug Authority in order to ensure their safety.
Friday’s statement explained that the vaccination of the medical staff comes within the framework of the state's keenness on the health and safety of all medical teams, as they “are the first line of defense” to confront the pandemic.
Meanwhile, according to Egypt’s Doctors' Syndicate, 348 Egyptian doctors have passed away due to the pandemic as of 30 January.
“Two doses of the coronavirus vaccine are sent to each of the medical staff who has registered to get it,” the Health Ministry spokesperson, Khaled Megahed said, noting that the process of vaccinating the medical personnel in Egypt “is optional and free of charge."
Egypt's vaccination priority list starts with frontline healthcare workers at isolation, fever, chest and screening hospitals; followed by kidney failure and cancer patients and then the elderly.
Anyone can apply to take the vaccine by using the ministry of health’s official website which will be available soon, Zayed explained in an earlier statement.
The ministry will announce before the end of the first quarter of 2020 when seniors above 65 years of age and patients with chronic diseases can register to receive the vaccine, she added.
Zayed announced that the Sinopharm’s vaccine would be sold for a symbolic fee of not more than EGP 100 for one single dose and EGP 200 for the two doses. She also said the price could go down after assessing other individual factors.
The health ministry has already prepared, in coordination with the interior and local development ministers, 34 centres nationwide for the delivery of vaccines to citizens.
Last week, Zayed inaugurated the National Complex for Vaccines and Serums, which aims to provide safe storage for vaccines according to international standards.
Regarding its side-effects, Doctor Hossam Hosny, the head of the Scientific Committee to Combat Coronavirus at the health ministry, said on Tuesday that that there have been virtually no reports of any serious side-effects from the Chinese vaccine used in Egypt.
"It is safe and effective in short and long terms," Hosny stressed in media statements.
All studies show that the patient develops enough immunity against the coronavirus after approximately one week from the day they receive the second dose, Hosny said.
Meanwhile, officials announced on Friday that the country has passed the peak of the second coronavirus wave with the daily toll of cases detected currently hovering around 500 infections, down from above the 1400-case threshold in the early days of January.
On Friday, the country reported 589 new coronavirus cases to bring the total infections since the outbreak of the pandemic last year to 164,871.