Pope Tawadros II, the pope of the Coptic Orthodox church (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's Pope Tawadros of Alexandria said he received his first dose of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine against COVID-19 as the country continues its mass vaccination campaign, that kicked off in February.
The pontiff made the announcement during an online meeting with young people under the title of "99 minutes with young people on social media".
The vaccination of the 68-year-old, came as Egypt has been carrying out a mass vaccination campaign, against the contagion, after opening online registration in February for medical staff members, the elderly and patients with chronic diseases, all via a designated website.
The campaign came after the ministry concluded the vaccination of medical workers at coronavirus isolation and triage hospitals.
The campaign relies on the Chinese Sinopharm and the British-Swedish Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, both of which were granted emergency use authorisation by authorities earlier this year. The country has obtained 700,000 doses of the two vaccines.
The second dose of Sinopharm’s vaccine is administered three weeks after the first shot whereas, the second dose of AstraZeneca's vaccine is given three months later.
Churches have been allowed to reopen with restrictions - since August - after four months of closure due to the pandemic in March last year, which saw most religious assemblies and festivities interrupted in fear of an outbreak in infections.
As of mid-March, a number of churches in Upper Egypt’s Qena governorate were shut down temporarily till 2 April, with a ban imposed on masses after a surge in coronavirus infections.
This is the first major closure of houses of Christian worship in a governorate since the one-month suspension of masses and other services in Cairo and Alexandria that had been ordered by the Coptic Orthodox Church in December due to a rise in infections among clergymen and churchgoers at the time.
The one-month closure coincided with the second wave of the pandemic that hit the country in November.
According to Egyptian health officials, Egypt has passed the peak of the second wave of coronavirus. However, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said the country is on the threshold of a third wave.
Egypt’s total infection toll currently stands at 199,364 since the outbreak in February last year, including 11,854 fatalities.