FILE PHOTO: Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt is set to receive on Sunday the first shipment of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Unified Procurement Authority (UPA), a week after the country embarked on a nationwide vaccination campaign, beginning with frontline health workers.
The UPA did not provide details on the number of expected doses.
Last week, the UPA announced it had signed a deal with Russia's R-Pharma and India's Serum Institute to purchase 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, part of a total 100 million doses targeted by the Egyptian government.
The AstraZeneca vaccine requires two doses administered 21 days apart akin to other vaccines, but without the need for ultra-cold storage, a feature that makes it easier to roll out in hot countries and remote locations.
Egypt has not yet approved the emergency use of AstraZeneca vaccine. However, the approval seems to be on the horizon as Minister of Health Hala Zayed announced in mid-January that the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA) has started studies on the British vaccine.
The EDA has already approved in early January the emergency use of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, the only coronavirus vaccine Egypt has received thus far.
On 10 December, Egypt received a 50,000-dose batch of the vaccine developed by Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm.
The second batch of Sinopharm vaccine has not yet been received, with Zayed attributing the delay to high demand on the manufacturing companies.
Egypt has reserved 100 million doses of the approved vaccines and has the capability to store 140 million doses, according to the health ministry.
Egypt has vaccinated hundreds of medical staffers nationwide as a first step in the country's vaccination campaign, which kicked off on Sunday.
The country's vaccination priority list starts with the frontline healthcare workers at the isolation, fever, chest and screening hospitals, followed by kidney failure and cancer patients, then the elderly.
A total of 207,000 medical staffers are targeted for vaccination at chest, fever hospitals, including doctors, nurses, administrators, and workers.
Hundreds of medical workers in Egypt, like elsewhere, have lost their lives to the coronavirus since the outbreak of the pandemic in February of last year.
As of Saturday, the Doctors' Syndicate reported 348 deaths and scores of infections among its members due to the virus.
A total of 164,871 coronavirus infections have been registered in Egypt, including 9,217 fatalities.
On Friday, officials said the country has passed the second wave of the virus.