Egyptian Minister of Health Hala Zayed
Egypt and China have agreed to manufacture the Chinese vaccine Sinovac inside Egypt via two firms, with an annual production capacity ranging from 20 to 60 million doses, the Egyptian Minister of Health Hala Zayed told a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
Zayed added that an agreement has been reached with the Chinese company to manufacture the vaccine inside Egypt via the Egyptian Holding Company for Biological Products and Vaccines (VACSERA).
Thus far, two firms were picked to produce the vaccine with a production capacity ranging from 20 to 60 million doses yearly, the minister said at the meeting, according to a Cabinet statement.
The minister also said that up to 98,000 Egyptians have so far registered on the government's website to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Egypt has been carrying out a mass vaccination campaign, allowing priority groups -- which include medical staff, the elderly, and patients with chronic diseases -- to register online via a designated website to be inoculated.
Online registration started late in February, nearly a month following the conclusion of vaccinating healthcare workers, who have been battling the contagion at coronavirus isolation and triage hospitals.
During the meeting, Zayed said 40 vaccination centres have been inaugurated recently, raising the total up to 196, while efforts are underway to reach 350 centres nationwide shortly as the country looks to gradually ramp up its vaccination rollout to absorb the "rising" turnout.
As many as 148,987 Egyptian citizens have been so far vaccinated against coronavirus, according to a statement by the ministry of health on Monday.
Egypt has obtained over 1.5 million doses of the Chinese Sinopharm and the British-Swedish Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, both of which the vaccination campaign relies on.
The country eyes near deliveries from both vaccines, which were granted emergency use in Egypt earlier this year.
A total of 205,732 coronavirus infections were registered in Egypt since the outbreak last year, including 12,210 deaths and 156,574 recoveries.
Egypt has been witnessing a slight increase in the daily infection rate over the past few days despite passing the peak of the second wave of the virus that hit the country in November.
The increase was already expected by the country's officials, including Zayed, who told a WHO meeting in February that the infection will be on an upward curve in April before retreating again in May.
President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi also said last month that the country "is on the threshold of a third wave" of the coronavirus pandemic.
The second week of April will witness the commencement of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, during which the highest number of coronavirus cases was recorded last year, as according to Zayed.
The government has allowed the resumption of mass prayers but upheld the ban on charity banquets and public ceremonies.